Penn GSE’s Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education makes the case for $5.1 billion education funding overhaul in Pennsylvania

June 21, 2024
Brooks Bowden stands in front of a chalkboard wearing a black pantsuit

This week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on a new study from Penn GSE’s Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education. The study looks at the potential impact of a $5.1 billion plan to change how Pennsylvania funds education. The budget proposal aims to fix long-standing problems and improve educational opportunities across the state, especially in underfunded districts like Philadelphia.

Brooks Bowden, who led the research and is an associate professor of education, said the investment could be transformative. She explained that even though it costs a lot, the benefits of better school quality and fairness would be much greater. Bowden highlighted expected results like a 4.47% increase in high school graduation rates, a 4.54% rise in college enrollment, and the creation of over 18,000 new jobs in K–12 education across the state.

The proposal came after a 2023 court decision said Pennsylvania’s current funding system is not good enough, especially for poorer districts that depend on local property taxes. The Basic Education Funding Commission created the $5.1 billion plan over seven years, with Philadelphia set to get an extra $242 million for the 2024–25 school year.

Bowden’s team, which includes doctoral students David Loeb and Katie Pullom, predicts significant impacts on student achievement and the economy. They believe the investment will not only increase graduation rates and college enrollment but also improve students’ skills and future earnings.

The funding will be rolled out in phases so that both current high school students and younger kids will see benefits. This approach aims to reduce differences in student-teacher ratios and counselor availability between well-funded and underfunded districts, and it could increase teacher salaries in underfunded districts by more than $7,000 to match those in better-funded areas.

The state House has already approved the plan, but it now needs approval from the Senate, where some Republican lawmakers have concerns. The Center’s study argues that investing in education will benefit the state and its citizens. Supporters of the plan say it’s a strategic investment in Pennsylvania’s future workforce.

Read more in the Philadelphia InquirerKYW Newsradio, and Spotlight PA.