PA Schools Work Advocates for Fair and Full Funding for Public Schools
Nearly two years after launching the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, Pennsylvania’s Legislature passed historic bipartisan legislation to enact a Basic Education Funding formula. In a year of partisan disputes, Republican and Democratic leaders worked together and prioritized students above party differences. The formula, recommended by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC), directs money to school districts based on objective factors, such as the district’s wealth, the district’s current tax effort and the district’s ability to raise revenue. The formula also includes student-based factors, including the number of children in the district who live in poverty, the number of children enrolled in charter schools and the number of children who are English Language Learners.
This new formula includes many of the same elements the recommended by the Campaign for Fair Education Funding.
Campaign for Fair Education Funding Mission
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding’s mission is to ensure that Pennsylvania adopts and maintains an adequate and equitable system of funding public education. Every public school must have the resources necessary to enable every child to meet state academic standards, be prepared for post-secondary success, and become productive, knowledgeable, and engaged adults.
Prior to Spring 2016, Pennsylvania was one of a small number of states without a formula and ranked among the nation’s least equitable states for public education funding. The National Center for Education Statistics found that Pennsylvania had the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country. Per pupil spending in the state’s poorest districts was 33 percent less than in the wealthiest districts. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, increasing funding investment and equity decreases achievement gaps and provides a lifetime boost to low-income students.
Campaign for Fair Education Funding Members
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding is a statewide nonpartisan effort made up of organizations that, collectively, represent Pennsylvanians from every corner of the state. The campaign includes more than 50 education advocacy organizations; teachers and school administrators; representatives of charter schools and traditional public schools; urban and rural interests; business and organized labor; faith-based groups; and community groups.
To strengthen the base of the campaign and elevate the voice of students in Southwestern Pennsylvania, a local coalition formed. Members include A+ Schools, Allies for Children, Education Law Center, Hear Me, PennCAN, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN), Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.
The local coalition coordinated more than 50 legislative visits at district and capitol offices, held call-in events and rallies, hosted telephone town halls, scheduled media appearances and organized canvassing activities. Members also educated lawmakers, students, educators and business, civic and faith-based leaders about the school funding issue.
In June 2015 and May 2016, the Southwestern Pennsylvania coalition led a delegation from the Pittsburgh region to join hundreds of others from across the commonwealth to attend Campaign for Fair Education Funding rallies. Parents, students, clergy, local community leaders, teachers and other educators shared reasons why all students should have access to a quality education no matter where they live.