PHILADELPHIA PA ( June 10th, 2021) – Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously for Resolution #210516, brought forward by POWER Interfaith and introduced today by Councilmember Helen Gym to affirm Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal on education funding. Philadelphia joins Lancaster’s and Allentown’s City Council as the third city council in the Commonwealth to endorse this resolution, following years of education justice advocacy by POWER Interfaith leaders across the region.
After speaking at length to the Council about the resolution’s rationale, it is clear that the Philadelphia School District’s lack of equitable funding has harmed students for decades. The disparities in education funding across the state fail Black, Brown, and poor white students alike. That inequity is intensified in Philadelphia, which educates a population that is 86% of students of color across 326 schools. POWER is leading the charge with statewide actions on June 21st to persuade the Pennsylvania Legislature to pass this proposed budget before the 30th deadline.
“For too long, Pennsylvania’s public school students have suffered under an unconstitutional funding system that shortchanges low-income and Black and Brown school districts,” said City Councilmember Helen Gym. “By fully implementing the Fair Funding Formula and Gov Wolf’s budget proposal, our state can begin healing the wounds caused by generations of divestment. I stand with POWER Interfaith in fighting for a fair education funding system that shows all children that their education is valued and their futures are filled with promise.”
“Fair Funding in the state of Pennsylvania is a Human Rights Issue. We must fund education for our youth Equitably. All of our children deserve a Quality Education, and we thank our city council for standing with us today. ” Rev Phyllis Harris, associate minister at Mt. Pisgah AME Church
“In the Philadelphia school district and districts across the commonwealth, every child has the right to a public education that prepares them for college and a career. For far too many and far too long that right is denied,” said Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez. “This commitment to fair funding will create a legislative path to fulfill our promise for the future of Pennsylvania and our children.”
“Equitable funding means every single student has access to high quality, fully staffed, state of the art public schools regardless of their zip code, skin color, or socioeconomic background. When we invest in our young people, we invest in the future of our city.” Councilmember Kendra Brooks continued,” I commend POWER for their leadership in fighting for fair funding for public education across the state. It will take all of us—elected officials, community groups, faith leaders, young people, parents, grandparents, and educators—to win the fight to make world-class education a public good available to all, not a commodity available only to a select few.”
“As a former Philadelphia school district teacher and current educator working with students preparing to become teachers, the inequities in our state’s schools are evident to anyone who has been in them.” said Margo Schall, chair of POWER’s education justice team” Black and brown districts across the state are not getting the funding they deserve, and the consequences of this inequitable funding affect the lives of students, teachers and our community on a daily basis. The least we can give our students is the baseline of equitable funding. It’s something we know is in our reach, and we thank our city council for demonstrating that today.”
Currently, the School District of Philadelphia receives 1.62 Billion dollars from the state, and the average Philly student is shortchanged $5,583 each year. Alongside the proposed 1.3 Billion dollars in new Education Funding statewide, 100% of the 6.4 Billion Dollar Education Budget would be distributed by the standards of PA’s Fair Funding Formula which would give 1.15 Billion Dollars to communities that would not otherwise receive these funds.
The resolution affirms the urgent need to utilize Pennsylvania’s Fair Funding Formula and calls on the General Assembly to fully enact the 2021 Education Budget proposed by Gov. Wolf. Wolf’s proposal would increase investment in early childhood and K-12 education, alongside critical areas of need, reducing Pennsylvania’s gap between the richest and poorest districts.