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BEFC Report Identifies $5.4 Gap, Marking a Pivotal Triumph for Equitable School Funding in Pennsylvania
POWER Interfaith Applauds Basic Education Funding Commission’s Landmark Report
(Philadelphia, PA: January 12, 2024) – In a historic leap towards education justice, the Basic Education Funding Commission’s (BEFC) groundbreaking report, approved yesterday with an 8 to 7 vote, exposes a $5.4 billion funding gap and addresses the persistent issue of underfunding in underserved school districts across Pennsylvania.
The report stands as a monumental victory for students of color in Pennsylvania who have endured years of underfunding, and reflects the culmination of relentless advocacy from organizations committed to rectifying the inequities in public school funding.
Beth Reeves, Co-Chair of POWER Interfaith’s Education Justice Team, states that the organization applauds legislators for considering funding solutions based on actual student needs: “This report is an opportunity to rectify historical racial inequities and construct a more just and fair framework that can offer a roadmap to address long standing challenges in public school funding.”
At the September 2023 commission hearing in Lancaster, PA, Rev. Gregory Edwards, Chief of Staff at POWER Interfaith, emphasized the moral imperative behind the call for equitable education: “The General Assembly holds the key to our children’s future, and it is their moral duty to unlock the doors of opportunity for every child in Pennsylvania, regardless of their zip code, family income, or skin color.”
The identified $5.4 billion gap demands urgent attention to fulfill the constitutional mandate for school funding. Urgency is paramount in implementing a plan to repair the shortfall and ensure adequate funding for all school districts. The BEFC’s responsibility in developing a funding formula for all Pennsylvania school districts is critical for achieving a fair and equitable education system.
POWER’s other Education Justice Team Co-Chair, John Barnett, says, “POWER Interfaith now looks to Governor Shapiro’s leadership throughout this legislative session to champion the swift implementation of the BEFC recommendations for the benefit of children and voters, and urges the public, policymakers, and the media to recognize the significance of this report and join in the collective effort to ensure its swift and comprehensive implementation.”
POWER Interfaith is a network of 200 congregations throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, in the Lehigh Valley and in Lancaster, a statewide organizing force for economic and racial justice on a livable planet. More about POWER Interfaith at www.powerinterfaith.org.