Do you know that Pennsylvania ranks 46th in the state’s share of K-12 education funding? Most states cover 47% of school costs, but PA contributes only 38%. State funding for classroom costs has declined since 2013 by $155.3 million. Increases in state education appropriations don’t keep pace with rising costs; the funding gap between Pennsylvania’s low- and high-wealth districts is the nation’s largest. Local revenues average 56% of school funding.
Dependence on local revenue leads to inequities between wealthy and economically distressed districts that often have students with the greatest needs. In 2016, The Campaign for Fair Education Funding enacted a fair funding formula. In 2018, the Campaign’s partners formed PA Schools Work, a bipartisan advocacy group that pursues the fair funding formula’s enactment.
PA Schools Work advocates for adequate school funding by uniting organizations across the state that represent teachers, school administrators, school boards, and parents; urban, suburban and rural schools; and community organizations. It is our job to educate legislators about these issues. Whether there is a R or D by their name is unimportant, but we want an E for education. We must help legislators understand what today’s educational environment needs to prepare students for the future.
Please join this new network of education advocates at paschoolswork.org. As this new year begins, so does the state’s budgeting cycle. Consider advocating for increased public school funding in basic education, special education and career technical education, and sharing your personal story of school funding needs with state legislators.
Carol Hodes, chair, State College AAUW Education Committee
Centre Daily Times, Jan 6, 2019