On Tuesday, September 13, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court convened in City Hall to decide whether it would hear a lawsuit arguing that the current method of funding education at the state level violates the state constitution. The decision has yet to be announced, but the wait time is a chance to look closely at the context of the case and try to understand what’s at stake for the community.
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Pennsylvania now has the widest disparities in the nation when examining spending among its wealthiest and poorest districts. This results in students who live in poverty and need the most getting the least, while students in wealthier districts are showered with amenities in school.
These disparities are largely driven by Pennsylvania’s high reliance on local property taxes to fund public schools, compared to most other states.
Pennsylvania has the biggest gap in the country in funding levels between its wealthy and poor districts, according to an analysis of federal education data. The plaintiffs, including the William Penn School District in Delaware County and some Philadelphia parents, including POWER’s own Sheila Armstrong, who argue that the current funding situation violates the equal-protection provision of the state constitution, and that Pennsylvania also fails to provide a “thorough and efficient system of education” as dictated in the constitution.