Following his eight-year tenure as Governor of Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf is preparing to leave office. Republican candidate Douglas Mastriano, retired Army Colonel and Pennsylvania State Senator, and Democratic candidate Joshua Shapiro, attorney and current Pennsylvania Attorney General, represent the two major political parties running for office. As the election draws near, it is of vital importance that students are informed of candidate policy objectives, namely those regarding the funding of public education. Each contender possesses starkly contrasting views which will greatly affect the institution of public education in upcoming years.According to Mastriano’s campaign website, his policy objectives include eliminating property taxes entirely, which fund approximately 58% of public school revenues. He proposes redirecting state funds, which currently make up 34% of public school revenues, to individual students rather than schools. This will cut per-student funding by about $10,000 dollars, but it will give parents greater autonomy over where their children go to school, since they will be able to determine where their funds are spent. Options include private schools, public schools, home schools, and religious schools. Mastriano argues that his approach will increase the value of school, improve the quality of education, and save money. However, with decreased funding, some opponents claim, comes the potential for reduced teacher salaries, teacher and staff lay-offs, and increased student-to-teacher ratios, which could negatively affect the effectiveness of education. Whereas Mastriano wants to cut funding for public schools, Shapiro’s campaign website presents his goals to fully fund schools and pursue equitable education. He acknowledges that many schools in low-income areas are underfunded and unable to attract the best and brightest teachers. Rates of illiteracy and poverty are much higher in these areas, often resulting in generational poverty. Shapiro proposes that increasing public funding for education will result in healthier buildings, quality education, and an abundance of highly-qualified teachers to prepare all students for the future. Additionally, he supports funding scholarships and various other programs for all students, principally those who have been overlooked. With increased funding, however, comes potentially increased taxes, which is a deterrent for some. Voting is a fundamental element of our democracy that ensures the wants and needs of constituents are acknowledged. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th, 2022.
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