State Senator Art Haywood issued the following statement in advance of a Pennsylvania Senate vote on school funding:
HARRISBURG, 11 April 2016: “This week, the Senate will decide whether or not to continue allowing unfair funding for our children’s schools. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Pennsylvania was the worst in the nation in fairness of funding to high poverty schools. This week we will vote to distribute school funding in a way that either continues or puts an end to these inequalities.
Governor Wolf recognizes that we must reverse the decades long inequitable funding of schools in Pennsylvania. U.S. Education Secretary Duncan has said that Pennsylvania is a state where low-income families in districts like Philadelphia are “being shortchanged when it comes to state and local education funding.” In Pennsylvania, the difference between high poverty and no poverty districts is 33% – the highest in the nation and more than double the national average.
Governor Wolf’s funding formula is aimed at restoring the deep cuts from the Corbett years in order to begin to reverse Pennsylvania’s unjust school funding scheme that discriminates against high poverty students. While most Pennsylvania school districts have seen education cuts restored at levels of 90 – 100%, there are a number of districts that have yet to see substantive restorations. For example, Corbett education cuts have been only 80% restored in Philadelphia. Governor Wolf’s funding formula addresses the deficit in Philadelphia and other districts across the state by providing increased funding to those districts that received the least restorations in funding following cuts.
Additionally, the Corbett cuts included the irresponsible end of charter school reimbursements. Local school districts were then forced to use their limited resources to pay for state-mandated charter schools. Governor Wolf’s formula allocates funds to those schools that have suffered from the end of the charter school reimbursement, principally Philadelphia, where approximately 70,000 students are enrolled in charter schools.
While I continue to advocate for the Basic Education Commission’s funding formula to be applied across the commonwealth, we must restore cuts first so that we do not work from a baseline that locks in decades of inequitable school funding in Pennsylvania. An upcoming vote on how to distribute the additional $200 million in education dollars is really about one question: will we remain the state with the most inequitable school funding system in the nation or will we establish a fair baseline from which to apply a funding formula? My vote will be against applying a funding formula until we have addressed Pennsylvania’s devastating education cuts with equitable restorations.”
Contact: Melissa Ostroff