Racist Zip Codes

Citizens for Fair School Funding
#EquityFirst
Media Contact: Equity First
Info@SupportEquityFirst.org | @EquityFirstOrg
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 2, 2018

Racist Zip Codes

 13 Pennsylvania School Districts Receive Less Than 50% of their Recommended

Level of Basic Education Funding 

while 99 School Districts Receive TWICE

their Recommended Level of Basic Education Funding

(Harrisburg, PA) – January 2, 2018 – For 2018, we wish the NFL Steelers and Eagles would take a knee to end racial discrimination in Basic and Special Education Funding in Pennsylvania School Districts. Several studies recognize Pennsylvania’s distribution of basic education funding as the most racially discriminatory funding scheme in the United States.[1] In Pennsylvania, the distribution of special education funding is shamefully worse and rotten to the core.[2]

In Harrisburg, it’s the blatantly obvious hush-hush.  Absolutely no one wants to deal with this.

Comparatively speaking, Republicans from mostly white districts don’t want to change the funding formulas for Basic or Special Education because their districts are relatively “over-funded.”  Truly, it’s sad to see the party of Lincoln upholding racially-discriminating funding in Pennsylvania. Despite the obvious, Republicans vehemently defend hold-harmless provisions, so their school districts get increases every year, no matter what.  Conversely, Democrats in mostly minority districts say and do nothing about this specific issue. It’s hard to believe that racial discrimination in school funding is not the single biggest issue for the Democratic party in Pennsylvania. Despite the obvious, even Governor Wolf budget proposals continue to send more and more funding for Basic and Special Education to over-funded districts.

True Lincoln conservatives should be outraged. By drastically under-funding poor and minority districts, the direct impacts are skyrocketing government costs in corrections, law enforcement, social services and depressed property values. The human costs are worse.  Simply put, it’s penny-wise, pound-foolish. True liberals seem so caught up in the cause of the day, they turn a blind eye and race to the next issue.  Racial discrimination in school funding is Pennsylvania’s most disgusting plague, and no one wants to deal with it or fix it.  Meanwhile, instead of attracting capital investment, entrepreneurs and young workers, our once proud cities with globally-recognized names are exporting jobs, crime and problems.

Racist Zip Codes

Basic Education Funding is the largest General Fund allocation in the Pennsylvania state budget. Adding only $100 Million in new funding to this year’s FY 2017-2018 budget was one of the lowest increases in 10-years, a 1.7% increase over last year.[3] In 2016, Pennsylvania adopted a new Basic Education Funding Formula (BEFF) for the distribution of Basic Education Funding. The adoption of the fair formula and its subsequent scrutiny have revealed one of the most racially-discriminatory government funding programs in the United States.[4] In Pennsylvania, nearly one million students are negatively impacted.[5] Likewise, earlier in 2014, Pennsylvania adopted a new Special Education Funding Formula (SEFF), which also revealed 34 districts receiving 50% less than the formula’s recommended levels of special education funding.[6] In special education, the racial discrimination is worse.

Racist Zip Codes

Presently, thirteen (13) school districts receive less than 50% of their recommended level of basic education funding. $13.97 million dollars is needed to bring these districts to 50% of their recommended level of basic education funding.[7]  It’s outrageous that 13 districts are so drastically under-funded every year, while 99 school districts are getting two-times their recommended level, every year.  With shameful haste, $13.97 million should be allocated in an immediate supplemental budget to fix this rotten travesty.

Likewise, 93 school districts receive less than 75% of their recommended level of BEFF. It would cost $371,721,741 to bring these districts to 75% of their recommended level of BEFF.  120 districts receive less than 90% of their recommended level of BEFF. It would cost $720,474,938 to bring these 120 districts to 90% of their recommended level of BEFF.[8]  The total cost of fairness, to achieve full funding for districts receiving less than their recommended allocations would cost $1,093,343,390.

Horribly, in special education funding, on an annual basis, 34 districts receive less than 50% of their recommended funding level.  $70,344,508.74 is needed to bring these districts to 50% of their recommended funding level. Immediately, $70.34 Million should be allocated into a supplemental budget to fix this rotten travesty.

In Pennsylvania, zip codes with the most minority students receive much less than their recommended levels of Basic Education Funding, every year.[9]  Racial discrimination in Special Education Funding is far worse with the poorest minority districts severely under-funded on an annual basis.[10]

Racist Zip Codes

Smack in the face of severely under-funded districts, unbelievably, there are three (3) School Districts getting more than 500% of their recommended level of basic education funding, every year! South Side SD, 98% white, gets 573.67%, almost $8.5 Million more, every year, then their recommended level.[11]  Read this 5-times to sink in.  Three districts are 5-times over-funded, while 13 districts are 50% under-funded.

Fifteen (15) school districts receive more than 300% of their recommended level of BEFF, 3-times the recommended level.

Ninety-nine (99) districts receive more than 200% of their recommended level of Basic Education Funding. That’s twice more! That’s double! Predominantly, these 99 over-funded districts have the largest concentrations of white, non-minority students.[12]

Again, several studies recognize Pennsylvania’s distribution of basic education funding as the most racially discriminatory funding scheme in the United States. [13]

Remarkably, most of Pennsylvania’s entire education establishment choose to ignore this blatant racial funding discrimination.  They keep kicking the can.  The notable exceptions have been fighting this issue for decades and/or are not statewide membership-based organizations.

When the Governor and General Assembly proposed $100 Million in new Basic Education Funding for the FY 2017-2018 Budget, with distributions to under-funded as well as to over-funded districts, the coalition group, The Campaign for Fair Funding remained silent and did nothing. Instead, they restated their solution; as follows,

“State lawmakers must make greater, sustainable investments in students through the new fair funding formula and find the revenues to support them. To fund our schools fairly and adequately, the Campaign for Fair Education Funding urges the state to increase its investment through the fair funding formula by about $3 billion over the next several years. This should include a significant increase in state funding for schools in the 2017-18 budget year.”[14]

We ask, is $100 Million a significant increase?  Is sending a large portion of the $100 Million to already over-funded districts, FAIR?  Why isn’t this coalition fighting to end racial discrimination in school funding?

Instead, in large part, because most statewide educational organizations have voting majorities from over-funded school districts these parts of the educational establishment are forced to play lip service and sing a chorus of asking for $3 Billion more.[15]  For historical perspective, it took 180 years for Basic Education Funding to reach $5.9 Billion.[16]   For a reality check, at last year’s rate of $100 Million increase, it would take 30 YEARS to reach $3 Billion.  Simply put, thirty (30) years is two-generations of school children!

Immediate Supplemental Budget:
In the current fiscal year, FY 2017-2018, a supplemental budget should be immediately adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor that provides $13.97 Million to the thirteen (13) school districts receiving less than 50% of recommended level of Basic Education funding and $70.35 Million to the thirty-four (34) school district receiving less than 50% of their recommended level of Special Education funding.

The Next Three State Budgets:

In the FY 2018-2019 state budget for Basic Education Funding, the 93 school districts not getting 75% of their recommended level of Basic Education Funding should immediately get $371,721,741 to bring them to the 75% level, likewise for Special Education Funding to the 75% level.

In the FY 2019-2020 state budget for Basic Education Funding, 120 Districts not getting 90% of Basic Education Funding, should get 90% of their recommended level of Basic Education funding, likewise for Special Education Funding level.

In the FY 2020-2021 state budget, all school districts should receive 100% of their recommended level of Basic and Special Education Funding and going forward all school districts should continue to receive 100% of the recommended funding levels for basic and special education funding.

For way too long, Pennsylvania’s distribution of basic and special education funding has racially discriminated by zip code.  It’s rotten, it’s bad policy and it’s time to fix it.

Kelly Lewis is a former state representative and a co-founder of www.SupportEquityFirst.org

[1] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[2] The Special Education Funding Commission Report: http://bit.ly/2rNRibx

[3] Higher Education Gets Little in Gov Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget; http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2017/02/07/Higher-education-gets-little-in-Gov-Tom-Wolf-s-Pennsylvania-budget-100-million-more-proposed-for-K-12/stories/201702070159

[4] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[5] Governor’s proposed State Budget: http://bit.ly/2r8divL

[6] Governor’s proposed State Budget: http://bit.ly/2r8divL

[7] Basic Education Funding:  http://www.education.pa.gov/teachers%20-%20administrators/school%20finances/education%20budget/pages/default.aspx#tab-1

[8] www.SupportEquityFirst.org

[9] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[10] Governor’s proposed State Budget: http://bit.ly/2r8divL

[11] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[12] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[13] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[14] Campaign for Fair Funding Fact Sheet: http://fairfundingpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/CFEF_fact-sht-17-UPDATED.pdf

[15] Campaign for Fair Funding Fact Sheet: http://fairfundingpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/CFEF_fact-sht-17-UPDATED.pdf

[16] Governor’s proposed State Budget: http://bit.ly/2r8divL

 


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