***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
POWER thanks Pennsylvania’s Basic Education Funding Commission for work towards fair funding formula for public schools — but reserves judgment on whether the formula is a step forward towards eliminating racial and economic disparities until the full report is released.
Contact: Margaret Ernst, 609.577.6430, firstname.lastname@example.org
Philadelphia, PA — This morning, Pennsylvania’s Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) released a summary of its recommendations for a new school funding formula for Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is one of just three states in the union without a weighted student formula to determine state spending on school districts, and has the largest gap in funding between rich and school districts in the country.
POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), an interfaith community organizing movement that has worked towards a Full and Fair Funding Formula for since 2013, appreciates the bi-partisan efforts of the BEFC to examine the causes and impact of inadequate and unfair school funding in Pennsylvania. The student weights chosen by the Commission look like they will help move Pennsylvania’s school funding in a positive direction.
However, the summary released this morning does not include enough information for POWER to determine whether the formula would truly address racial and economic disparities. Thus, POWER is reserving judgment on the proposed formula until the full report– expected to be released to the public later today– is available.
POWER also emphasized that it is critical for an equitable formula to be applied to the whole budget for Basic Education spending in Pennsylvania, not just incremental increases. As POWER has shown, existing funding levels display racial bias accumulated after years of unfair funding.
Applying an equitable formula merely to new funds put towards the education budget will not eliminate inequities from past years and thus not transform the current system, leaving Pennsylvania’s students to suffer the consequences. The amount of funding greatly matters, not just how it’s distributed.
POWER is inviting people of faith from across Pennsylvania to fast and pray in Harrisburg for 10 days straight, starting this Saturday, in a “Moral Takeover” that will call on the Legislature to pass a budget with full and equitable education funding.
About POWER: POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) represents congregations from across the Philadelphia region, bringing people together across the lines of race, faith, income level and neighborhood — lines which have historically kept our city and state divided. POWER is committed to the work of bringing about justice here and now and seeks to exercise power in the public arena by strengthening and mobilizing our networks, so that the needs and priorities of all Philadelphians are reflected in the systems and policies that shape our city. POWER is nonpartisan and is not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office. Learn more at www.powerphiladelphia.org.