If #BlackLivesMatter, why does Pennsylvania have the most racist school funding in the nation? | Opinion

Posted Aug 22, 2020

By Crystal Echeverria

I am a student in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. I am not blind to what has been happening for decades in my state. School districts with large minority populations are under-funded by millions of dollars every year in basic and Special Education funding. Some of the most underfunded school districts include Harrisburg School District (the capital city) which was underfunded by $37 million, Reading by $101 million, Scranton by $29 million, City of Philadelphia by $440 million and York by $59 Million, every year!

Even though they signed school funding formula laws, the Governor and General Assembly continue to refuse to fix these massive funding shortfalls.

As a Harrisburg resident, I have seen the consequences of this underfunding first hand. Bathrooms have no doors, textbooks fall apart in your hands and teachers let kids run the school. One would think the state government would put a little more care into its capital city!

Seeing beautiful schools in the suburbs and crumbling schools in cities, even as a young student, I questioned what was going on. What’s also interesting is that no one knows or wants to tell the truth about this massive discrimination. When I asked my teachers and principals, and spoke in class about it, they had no idea the discrimination was so bad. I shared the website, www.SupportEquityFirst.org.

So, I took the first step. I started sharing the information and impacts with students like me. Students get mad and upset. Now, I’m leading a petition drive to get 10,000 students supporting fair-funding at: https://bit.ly/31cA9fa. Now, a growing number of students are sharing this information, telling the story and revealing the truth.

But, what is the truth?

The brutal truth: Today, 150 school districts are underfunded by $1.22 Billion in basic and special education, despite funding law requirements.

The brutal truth: Unbelievably, 14 school districts are overfunded by $10 Million in basic and special education. 13 of those 14 overfunded-districts are more than 92% white.

The brutal truth: Dozens of state and national reports demonstrate Pennsylvania is sustaining the worse, most inequitable, and racist K-12 education funding in the United States.

After five years of no action, it’s time for Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to fix this, and invest $1.22 billion in emergency funding to bring the 150 underfunded school districts to their baseline funding levels under the law.

Crystal Echeverria is a student in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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