For Immediate Release: EQUITY FIRST – “END SCHOOL FUNDING DISCRIMINATION”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2017
EQUITY FIRST – “END SCHOOL FUNDING DISCRIMINATION”
2017 Agenda Asks Governor Wolf and General Assembly to End the Nation’s Worst School Funding Discrimination in Basic Education and Special Education Funding
(Harrisburg, PA) – May 30, 2017 – Two (2) years after the historic adoption of the bipartisan funding formulas for Basic Education and Special Education, shockingly, only 6% of Basic Education funding and 8% of Special Education funding are running through the adopted new funding formulas. These measures result in massive inequities and discrimination among school districts. In fact, Pennsylvania under funds 150 school districts in Basic Education by $1.1 Billion and Special Education by $400 Million, annually. Tragically, Pennsylvania leads the nation in its discrimination against poor, minority students.
“If we continue on the same path, it will take more than 27-years for poor students to get fair funding,” said former State Representative David Parker, and Director of Equity First. “Now is the time to fix this wrong. We need to fully implement the adopted, bipartisan funding formulas for Basic Education and Special Education.”
Rebecca Kann, co-founder of Equity First added, “We adopted bipartisan school funding formulas to help the state’s poorest students, but two successive state budgets have ignored them, and that’s pretty shocking.” Kann added, “I’ve seen the devastation caused by this massive underfunding to students and city economies.”
According to the Education Law Center, Pennsylvania is a regressive state in terms of teacher: student ratio in high-poverty school districts. The inequitable distribution of teachers in poor districts is another negative mark on the basic education funding structure. Districts with the greatest property wealth and ability to pay, are able to spend more on teacher salaries, special education and extracurricular activities while poor districts with shrinking property tax bases are forced to reduce the number of teachers and programs.
Janet Weidensaul, former Monroe County Commissioner and a member of the Pocono Mountain Economic Development Corporation stated, “Since 1992 when they removed the student enrollment adjustments to Basic Education funding, we have been fighting to fix the school funding formulas in Pennsylvania. It’s disappointing that Pennsylvania has failed to fix this travesty. But we can and should resolve this injustice right now.”
June 1, 2017 marks the one-year anniversary of the Basic Education funding formula and the 3-year adoption of the Special Education Funding formula. Unfortunately, the anniversaries continue to reveal Pennsylvania has the worst school funding situation in America. Approaching $2.25 Billion, no other state comes close to the levels that Pennsylvania underfunds poor districts.
Kelly Lewis, former state representative and co-founder of Equity First explained, “With so much damning evidence, it’s disappointing to see so many state associations turn a blind eye. Every budget year, the overfunded school districts, state associations and special interests work together to block and delay fixing the worst school funding situation in America.” Lewis added, “They developed a sinister term, called ‘hold-harmless’ that has dumped the garbage can on our state’s poorest kids and our city economies.”
The 2017 Equity First Plan to End School Funding Discrimination:
- For Basic Education and Special Education funding, the State Budget shall distribute 50% of funding through the bipartisan funding formulas for Basic Education and Special Education in FY 2017-2018; 75% in FY 2018-19; 100% in 2019-2020.
- Legislation prohibiting overfunded school districts from receiving any new state funding until all school districts are fully-funded through the bipartisan-adopted funding formulas for Basic Education and Special Education.
- Demand adoption of legislation and budget funding to establish the School District Consolidation Fund to incent the efficient consolidation of school districts.
- Demand adoption of legislation and budget funding to establish Cost Savings Commissions to thoroughly review all K-12 spending to propose and implement cost-saving strategies and report cost-savings successes to the public, Governor and General Assembly.