Pennsylvania Supreme Court revives case challenging how the state funds public schools

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court revives case challenging how the state funds public schools

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a Sept. 28 ruling in a case alleging the state is failing in its constitutional obligations to provide a “thorough and efficient system of education,” and is not closing the gap in funding differences between wealthier and poorer school districts.  

State Supreme Court justices reversed the Commonwealth Court’s dismissal of the case, brought by school districts, students, parents, and others, challenging how Pennsylvania’s schools are funded. The Supreme Court’s ruling returns the case to Commonwealth Court.

“This decision means that the courts must decide whether Pennsylvania is adequately funding our public schools,” said PSEA President Dolores McCracken. “In the past few years, we’ve made a lot of progress on this, but it’s clear that we have more work to do.

“We have a new funding formula on the books, and Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly have worked together to nearly reverse the $1 billion in school funding that was cut in 2011. But lawmakers need to make funding our public schools a top priority.

“With today’s decision, the courts may end up getting involved in resolving this issue, but elected officials shouldn’t wait. We know that we need to invest more in our public schools. The fact is that Pennsylvania is currently 46th in the nation in state funding of public schools and dead last in equity."

The bipartisan state budget that became law on July 10 includes an additional $175 million for public education, making good on Gov. Wolf’s commitment to restore nearly $1 billion in cuts to public schools in 2011-12. But more work needs to be done.

“Working together, lawmakers, educators, taxpayers, and concerned citizens can make school funding a priority, give schools the resources they need, and give students the education they deserve.”