Gubernatorial candidate Ed Pawlowski outlined his vision for how to improve Pennsylvania’s public education system on Monday.
The current Allentown Mayor wants to restore education funding to pre-Corbett administration levels, create an education funding formula that is more fair and reliable, offer one year of voluntary pre-K to all families, and ensure better access to post-secondary education.
“Our education system is in trouble. It’s failing our students, but more than that it’s failing our businesses and our taxpayers,” said Pawlowski. “We have to work together to find new ways to not only fund public education, but to ensure that our students receive the education they need to prepare them for the 21st Century economy and the jobs that come with it.”
The funding for this plan would come in part from a 5% severance tax on Marcellus Shale revenues, an idea put forward by both Allyson Schwartz and Katie McGinty. Pawlowski also said that he would close corporate tax loopholes and consider a plan to decrease prison funding in order to put more priority on education spending.
The part of Pawlowski’s plan that makes it most distinctive from the other candidate’s positions, is its emphasis on educational programs that are directly aimed at improving the quality of Pennsylvania’s workforce.
“We literally have hundreds of jobs that go unfilled, because we do not have the trained workforce to fill them,” Pawlowski said. “We desperately need welders, carpenters, plumbers and heavy equipment operators who not only have the hands-on experience, but the educational background to progress in their companies and bring an added value to their employers.”
To combat this problem, Pawlowski is calling for better post-secondary education, including the establishment of Early College High Schools on Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education campuses. These schools are intended to make the transition from high school to college easier so that less students drop out of the education system early. They also provide college credit, making higher education more affordable.
Pawlowski also wants to proportionally increase funding for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math subjects in public schools, and create a Second Chance program for high school dropouts.