The Fight to End White Supremacist Funding Schemes In Pennsylvania Government

Citizens for Fair School Funding
Media Contact: Equity First | @EquityFirstOrg



January 24, 2018

The Fight to End White Supremacist Funding Schemes

In Pennsylvania Government

White School Districts Supremely Benefit from 30-Year Plan to Delay Fair School Funding

99 School Districts Get 2 Times Their Fair Funding Allocation and Keep Getting More

 (Harrisburg, PA) – January 24, 2018 – A week after MLKJ Day 2018, Pennsylvania continues to fund school districts through Jim Crow funding schemes that greatly-favor white school districts.[1]  Over the past 4-years, Pennsylvania has adopted new funding formulas for Special Education[2] and Basic Education[3] that confirm decades of blatant under-funding to minority school districts.[4] [5]  Despite adoption of new formulas and three (3) successive state budgets under Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania state government continues to purposely underfund minority school districts and knowingly overfund white districts.[6]  Unless immediately fixed by Governor Wolf and the General Assembly, these Jim Crow funding schemes will keep white school districts overfunded for another 30-years.[7]

Pennsylvania is recognized as having one of the most racially discriminatory funding scheme in the United States for K-12 education.[8]  Tragically, the Jim Crow funding scheme for special education is equally bad.[9]

Truly, it’s difficult to grasp that Pennsylvania purposely underfunds the state’s poorest special-needs boys and girls while it overfunds the state’s wealthiest school districts in special education funding.

The distribution of funding for special education, basic education and pupil transportation clearly demonstrate Jim Crow funding schemes for most of the $11.6 Billion state education budget that were, are and continue to be heavily-skewed to white school districts.[10]  In fact, the three (3) state budgets passed after adoption of funding formulas for special and basic education establish a clear and convincing 30-year plan to delay fair-funding for basic and special education.[11]

At $5.99 billion, basic education is the largest General Fund allocation in the Pennsylvania state budget.[12] Shockingly, this year’s 2017-2018 Governor proposed and adopted state budget only added $100 million in new Basic Education funding, one of the lowest increases in 10-years, a 1.7% increase over last year.[13]  With conscious disregard to existing unfairness, $40 million of the $100 million was distributed to already overfunded, mostly white school districts. [14]

In Pennsylvania, every year nearly one-half million minority students are negatively impacted.[15]  Tragically, the state’s poorest special-needs boys and girls are severely underfunded, while some of the wealthiest white districts are overfunded by millions.[16]   The education budget’s 3rd largest allocation is pupil transportation.  Most of the $549 million allocation for pupil transportation goes to white school districts, very little to minority districts.[17]

In 2018, fifty-three (53) years after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,

  • Ninety-nine (99) school districts in Pennsylvania get twice their recommended funding allocation for basic and special education (>200%).[18]
  • Fifteen (15) school districts get more than three-times their recommended funding allocation for Basic Education Funding (>300%).[19]
  • Ten (10) school districts continue to get $10 million more than their basic and special education funding formula allocation; while every year, Reading School District gets $104.31 million less.[20]
  • 9 of the 10 districts overfunded by $10+ Million are 90% white, and 5 of these 9 are >95% white.[21]
  • Many of the 99 districts overfunded by 2x, are some of the wealthiest school districts in the state.[22]

“We founded Citizens for Fair School Funding to fight against funding schemes that are racist and wrong,” stated Kelly Lewis. “The facts are irrefutable.  Right now, Pennsylvania is knowingly under-funding minority school districts and purposely overfunding white school districts; and political leaders have refused to fix it in the last three (3) state budgets.  Unless political leaders immediately end Jim Crow funding schemes, white districts will continue to be purposely overfunded for another 30-years.”

In broad daylight, Pennsylvania knowingly-overfunds many of the wealthiest, mostly-white districts in special education, basic education funding and/or pupil transportation.[23] [24]  For example, every year, 88%[25] white, Council Rock School District gets $10.18 million more than it’s supposed to get; and, 6%[26] white, Reading School Districts gets $104.31 Million less than it’s supposed to get from the state’s basic and special education formula allocations.[27]  To demonstrate the financial divide, a staggering 99.7%[28] of Reading students qualify for the NLSP federal free lunch program while only 6.9%[29] of Council Rock students qualify for NSLP free lunch.[30]   But, every year, Council Rock SD continues to be grossly over-funded while Reading SD remains severely under-funded.  In fact, three (3) successive state budgets have done nothing to correct this blatant funding scheme favoring wealthy and white Council Rock over poor and minority Reading SD.[31]  Sadly, for decades Reading School District has been equivalently under-funded by $100 million per year, with devastating impacts to its real estate market and city economy.[32]  Other cities have been similarly devastated.[33]

Clearly, Jim Crow is alive and well in Pennsylvania.  In the past, from the beginnings of public education through Reconstruction[34] to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, laws and funding-schemes favoring white schools were enforced by militant white supremacist groups.[35]  Today, Jim Crow funding schemes are enforced by official state budgets.[36]

Kudos to the few but brave legislators, officials and statewide organizations calling for the immediate end of Jim Crow funding schemes in Pennsylvania.[37]   You need to get louder and we need more of you.

Lewis continued, “Like the first abolitionists and civil rights leaders before us, we are not going to stop until we end every Jim Crow funding scheme in Pennsylvania.”

We believe there are many more Jim Crow funding schemes within the distribution of Pennsylvania state government funding, which topics shall be addressed in future communications.

It’s sad to see the party of Abraham Lincoln upholding Jim Crow funding schemes that only a white supremacist could love. Despite formulas identifying severe underfunding to minority districts, Republicans keep defending and demanding hold-harmless policies, so their school districts keep getting increases every year, no matter how badly minority districts are treated, past and present.  Conversely, most Democrats representing minority districts remain quiet and do little or nothing to change funding schemes favoring white districts over minority districts.  With most of their voters living in minority school districts, it’s hard to believe, “ending racist funding schemes hurting students, teachers, taxpayers and businesses in minority school districts,” isn’t the #1 issue of the Democratic party in Pennsylvania!

End Jim Crow Funding Schemes in Pennsylvania

Immediately, a supplemental budget should be adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf that immediately ends decades-long Jim Crow funding schemes that favor white school districts and continue to punish poor minority school districts and the students, teachers and taxpayers of those districts.

Kelly Lewis is a former state representative and a co-founder of


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

[2] The Special Education Funding Commission Report:

[3] See

[4] See: The Special Education Funding Commission Report: &

[5] See &

[6] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[7] See,

[8] See,, citing many additional sources.

[9] The Special Education Funding Commission Report:

[10] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[11] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[12] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[13] Higher Education Gets Little in Gov Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget;

[14] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[15] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[16] See: and Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[17] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:




[21] See:

[22] See:,, Council Rock, Centennial, Pennsbury, Neshaminy, Bethel Park, Methacton, Abington Heights, Upper Perkiomen, North Allegheny, Manheim Central, Lower Merion, New Hope-Solebury

[23] Footnote 21 & 22, See:, citing additional sources.

[24], and PA Department of Education.




[28] See:


[30] Council Rock and Reading School Districts, PA Department of Education.

[31] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[32] See:, citing additional sources.

[33] See:, citing additional sources.

[34] Foner, Eric. 2005. Reconstruction: America’s unfinished revolution, 1863-1877. New York: History Book Club


[36] Governor’s proposed and adopted State Budget:

[37] See:, citing many additional sources.

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