SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT

Pennsylvania’s School Funding Lawsuit Will Go to Trial in 2021

Where you live should not dictate whether you receive the quality education you need.

Every child in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the right to an education that prepares them for college or career. In fact, the Pennsylvania Constitution speaks to the right of a “thorough and efficient” education.

Background

In 2014, the Public Interest Law Center and Education Law Center- PA filed a lawsuit against state officials on behalf of parents, school districts, and organizations, claiming that the funding system (decided by the legislature) in Pennsylvania is not only wrong, it violates the state Constitution. The case goes to trial in 2021.

Throughout Pennsylvania, schools have not received adequate and equitable funding to meet our children’s educational needs. Yet the Constitution says, “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”

The state government is breaking its own law, underfunding our schools by billions of dollars, and our kids are suffering. Pennsylvania provides a smaller share of total funding for education than almost all other states. This reliance on local funding creates huge disparities between rich and poor school districts. 

Going to Trial

On November 12th, the school funding lawsuit trial in Commonwealth Court will begin in the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg. The courtroom will be open to the public. If you are interested in coming to the trial, please email Ed Voters’ advocacy coordinator, Sandra Miller, for more information and to sign up.

For updates on the trial, visit www.FundOurSchoolsPa.org

Click HERE to sign a resolution in support of the school funding lawsuit. 

The Plaintiffs

Six school districts – William Penn, Lancaster, Panther Valley, Greater Johnstown, Shenandoah Valley, and Wilkes Barre Area – have filed suit along with the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, the NAACP PA State Conference, and families whose children attend under-resourced schools.

What is the Goal?

The goal is for the court to declare the current school funding system unconstitutional and order the defendants to create and maintain a school funding system that enables all students to meet standards.

What about the Basic Education “fair funding formula”?

The Basic Education Funding formula adopted in 2016 provides a fairer way to allocate money based on need, BUT it has only been used to distribute new funding, and the increases have been modest – not enough to change the existing unfairness. Focusing on distribution of funds without ensuring that those funds are adequate will not solve the funding crisis.

Public education advocates have a critical role to play in demanding action from decision makers for ensuring that all our students have access to schools that are adequately and equitably funded to meet the educational needs of every child. We MUST raise awareness of the school funding problem in our communities.

  • We need to demonstrate support for the legal action and ask the court to rule in favor of PA’s children.
  • We need to make sure elected leaders hear from constituents regularly and passionately about the need to prioritize children.
  • We need to increase the pressure on decision makers in Harrisburg. That means writing letters, making calls, getting community organizations and local officials involved, passing resolutions in support of legal and legislative action, and sending letters to the editor.

Visit www.fundourschoolspa.org for more information about PA’s school funding lawsuit from the law centers leading this effort.

About the Resolution

The resolution is specifically a statement in support of the litigation before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court about the failure to properly enforce Pennsylvania’s constitutional guarantee in Article III, Section 14, of “a thorough and efficient system of public education,” and urging the Pennsylvania General Assembly to create and maintain a fair, adequate and predictable funding system that enables all children to meet state academic standards and does not discriminate against low-wealth school districts.

Who can propose and pass a resolution in support of the school funding lawsuit?

Any organization can propose and pass a resolution in support of the education funding lawsuit – a community group, a PTO, a PTA, a home school association, a school board, a municipal organization such as a borough council, etc.

Don’t forget to email us at sspicka@educationvoterspa.org when your group passes it so we can add it to the list!

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PA SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT
RESOLUTION AND INSTRUCTIONS

You can also call your legislator

Many legislators hear from corporate lobbyists and their party leadership more than they hear from voters in their districts. Making regular phone calls (every two weeks) to share your concerns about how Harrisburg is supporting (or not supporting) public education allows you to share with lawmakers the local impact their decisions are having on your children’s public schools and your community.

The vast majority of Pennsylvanians, regardless of party, support quality public schools. There is support for strong public education among political representatives and leaders of both parties as well. Calling your lawmakers is a way to show them that voters in their home districts are watching them and will hold them accountable for their votes on issues related to our public schools.

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“HOW TO CALL
YOUR LEGISLATOR”

Another key tool is writing a letter to the editor of your local paper.

Letters to the editor allow individuals to share with their community an opinion of how lawmakers’ actions in Harrisburg are supporting (or not supporting) public schools in the communities they represent.

Legislators care deeply about how their constituents perceive them and pay close attention to what is in their local papers. Letters to the editor are a critical tool in holding lawmakers accountable for the role they play in supporting (or not supporting) public education.

 

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“HOW TO WRITE A LETTER
TO THE EDITOR”