Improving the quality of state schools in Pennsylvania is among the top social justice issues prioritized by POWER Metro. PA educators understand first-hand the problems in public education, both in Philadelphia and throughout the state. Too many schools are woefully underfunded to support their needs due to Pennsylvania being one of the few states in the nation without a fair funding formula that helps to adjust education funding based upon needs of individual school districts and the revenue individual school districts can expect to receive through property taxes.
Problems in Public Education Deepen Existing Social Problems
The results of tying education funding to local resources are clear: poorer communities receive substantially less per-pupil funding for public education than wealthier communities. This leads to more drop-outs, increasing unemployment, and rising homelessness among citizens within these communities, particularly the youth. These effects lead to increasing crime in Philadelphia and other places in the state that have economically depressed communities. As unemployment, crime, and homelessness increase in these communities, fewer businesses come into these locations, reducing the number of jobs available to those living within these areas. Poverty rises, and with it, incarceration, particularly among young men, which further exacerbates the conditions in which single mothers find themselves, thus furthering the negative effects of persistent gender inequality in the state and the nation as a whole.
POWER Metro Works to Improve Pennsylvania State Public Schools with a Fair Funding Formula
State schools in Pennsylvania receive funding that is more unequal than most other states in the nation. Funding is based primarily upon the relative wealth and political power of individual school districts, not the needs of those school districts. A fair funding formula is a critical first step that religious people concerned with social justice issues can pursue to put their faith into action, and that is precisely what POWER Metro and POWER Philadelphia seek to do. By ensuring that students throughout the state of Pennsylvania receive adequate funding to support their education based upon need rather than ability of specific school districts to raise the revenue required through property taxes, the fight for education reform in Pennsylvania will help alleviate many social problems at their source, including unemployment, homelessness among the youth, poverty, crime, and persistent recidivism among criminal offenders.
POWER Metro’s Holistic Approach to Social Justice Issues
The fight to improve the quality of state schools in Pennsylvania will not solve all of the problems in regards to social injustice and inequality in the state. More work needs to be done to attract businesses into poorer communities and thus increase job and thus reduce unemployment and homelessness. Furthermore, because many of the jobs that are likely to be created in poorer communities will be minimum wage jobs, it is absolutely essential that people of faith and others concerned with social justice issues remain tenacious in their pursuit of a raise in the Pennsylvania state minimum wage. That is why POWER Metro has committed itself to focus on two priorities in tandem in the upcoming months: education reform in Pennsylvania and raising the state minimum wage.
Join POWER Metro and Put Your Faith into Action
If you are concerned as we are about these critical social justice issues, please consider volunteering or donating to support the work of POWER Metro and POWER Philadelphia, or contact POWER and speak to your congregation about how it can join the ranks of those committed to fighting for greater social justice and equality in the state of Pennsylvania.