This was quite a year for public education in Pennsylvania and our team is very grateful for the work that we’ve done together.
On February 7th, students won a historic victory in Commonwealth Court. Our collective efforts are building the statewide movement we need to ensure that Harrisburg will implement a constitutional PUBLIC school funding system and reject new vouchers and other school privatization schemes.
In April we worked with our PA Schools Work partners to organize an advocacy day attended by more than 150 advocates from districts throughout the commonwealth.
In June we issued a report detailing how cyber charter schools wasted $16.8 million in tax money on advertising, parties and more. We created 500 school district fact sheets to show the impact this broken funding system has on communities. We also testified at a Democratic Policy Committee meeting and hand-delivered materials to lawmakers at the Capitol. We are so proud that our work contributed to PA House passing historic cyber charter school funding reforms in House Bill 1422!
In June and July we worked with allies to stop a new voucher system from coming to PA (for now). We are so proud that Ed Voters supporters generated thousands of calls and letters to Governor Shapiro and made a substantial contribution to this effort.
During the fall, we worked to ensure all eyes are on the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC), including going to the first hearing in Allentown and making a trip to a hearing in Bedford. The BEFC is tasked with creating a plan to ensure all public schools will be adequately funded compliance with the court order. They will issue a report on January 11, 2024, and we and our PA Schools Work partners will be using our giant report cards to grade it!
In November we worked with our partners in the PA Schools work campaign to bring more than 250 people to Harrisburg to support a state funding system that will ensure ALL children have access to the quality public education they are guaranteed by the PA Constitution.
In December, we issued, “Pennsylvania Voucher Schools Use Tax Dollars to Advance Discrimination,” a report that documents the blatant and explicit discrimination that private and religious schools that participate in PA’s tax credit voucher program engage in.
Our report was covered by dozens of news outlets in Pennsylvania and by US News and World Report and Fox News. Our work will shape conversations around implementation of additional voucher programs in Pennsylvania as we move forward.
In 2024 we will be asking the question, “Is $470 million in taxpayer-funded vouchers for unaccountable, discriminatory private schools enough for Governor Josh Shapiro and Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg?”
Our 16 Public Education Champions have been hard at work learning about education policy issues and advocating for students. Some were even able to come to Harrisburg!
For the whole year we we have worked with partners to support advocates who are pushing back against book bans and discriminatory policies at the school board level. In January we launched a school board monitoring program and we hosted or participated in more than a dozen meetings about the roles and responsibilities of school boards in Pennsylvania.
We also facilitated the formation of the Pennsylvanians for Welcoming and Inclusive Schools coalition, which will be formally launching its website in January.
You can count on us to be where it matters, including at the pro-school voucher press conference in Harrisburg to present a different view of who does the choosing–HINT: private schools choose students, not the other way around.
We also ensure that people who are making decisions that impact public school students have the information they need to make informed decisions. We are pros at hand delivering our materials to lawmakers’ offices to ensure that they know exactly what they are supporting or not supporting.
We could not do this work without the support of advocates like you. Thank you!
If you’d like to help us enter 2024 with even more momentum, please recruit a new person to join Ed Voters. Forward this email to a friend, tell them that you get valuable information about issues related to public education from Ed Voters and ask them to sign up to be part of our network using THIS LINK.
We are so excited for the work we will do together to support public school students in 2024.
The Ed Voters Team