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May 2, 2024

Dear Speaker McClinton, Leader Bradford, and Chairman Schweyer, 

In February 2023, Commonwealth Court declared what families and educators already knew: that the Commonwealth’s school funding system has failed.

The Basic Education Funding Commission report passed in response to the Court’s decision provides the General Assembly a clear roadmap to follow to fully fund the Commonwealth’s public education system, delivering our students, parents, teachers, staff, and voters a public education system that works for all Pennsylvanians. With this report, the General Assembly is better primed than ever and must take immediate corrective action to meet the Commonwealth’s constitutional obligation to fully fund public education. 

Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposal to make an historic investment in public education serves as a down payment on rectifying the decades of neglect that have shortchanged Black and Brown children and children experiencing poverty.

 We support and applaud the Governor’s $1.6 billion funding allocation as a first and important step, and urge the legislature to provide assurance to our children, parents, educators, and communities that additional funding increases will come in future years.  

Equally important, the General Assembly must ensure a permanent solution by enacting a predictable schedule of  funding increases so that underfunded districts have the resources they need in the long-term, that allows schools to provide their students a comprehensive education and for the state to meet its constitutional obligation. 

That’s why we, the undersigned organizations, are urging the General Assembly to pass legislation this year that enacts a full plan to adequately fund every school district in the commonwealth and close the Commonwealth’s $5.1 billion adequacy gap.

Together, our organizations represent hundreds of thousands of members in every corner of the Commonwealth. We represent teachers, school support staff, education advocates, faith leaders, parents, and community members. Every day, we hear from our members and our communities who are struggling with the impacts of decades of underfunding—crumbling school infrastructure, lack of resources and materials, cut programs and extracurriculars, and staffing shortages. We know first hand the cost of failing to fund public education. This is a pivotal moment for public education in the Commonwealth, and together we must take bold action to fully invest in public education. 

The General Assembly not only has a constitutional mandate to implement a full plan to close the adequacy gap in a set timeframe, they also have the power to do so. Following similar court rulings, other states implemented multi-year payment schedules, and the PA General Assembly has used its power to set similar schedules in the past. 

We must also continue to defend public education from schemes, such as vouchers, that do not address the inequities in school funding that they purport to address and do nothing to remediate the toxic school buildings that quite literally poison our young people. The research is clear, vouchers unequivocally underperform and decimate public education by failing to prioritize improved outcomes and achievements for all students in our schools and communities.

Our children, parents, educators, and communities deserve certainty that their district will be fully funded on a predictable timetable. That’s why we call on you to make investment in public education your highest priority, and we urge you to demonstrate leadership now by passing legislation this year that enacts a full plan to adequately fund every school district in the Commonwealth that starts with eliminating the Commonwealth’s $5.1 billion adequacy gap. 

Sincerely,

1Hood Power
Action Center on Race and the Economy
AFT Pennsylvania
Education Voters of PA
Make the Road PA
PA WORKING FAMILIES PARTY
Pennsylvania Policy Center
Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA)
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
POWER Interfaith
School Police Association Of Philadelphia
SEIU PA State Council
UNITEHERE Local 634