June 21, 2021

Nancy Wilt, Michael Faccinetto, and Karen Beck Pooley: Pennsylvania gets chance to fix broken school funding systems

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Pennsylvania’s school funding system highlights many of the problems with how schools are funded in the US. In this op-ed for the Morning Call, three school board members in the Keystone State explain the opportunity.

It is budget season in Pennsylvania and this year there’s reason to celebrate: The commonwealth is looking at a projected $3 billion revenue surplus.

Finally, state leaders can address Pennsylvania’s broken system for funding public education. They can make the system more adequate, more equitable and cover more of the cost associated with various state mandates (related to special education, pensions and charter school tuition).

They can provide needed resources for students and needed relief for local taxpayers. And they can do this without raising any additional state taxes.

Why is more basic education funding and special education funding necessary? Nationally, about half of all public education spending comes from states (as opposed to the federal government or local taxpayers).

In Pennsylvania, this figure is closer to one-third. For special education services, the state’s contribution is barely one-fifth. This puts more pressure on local taxpayers to meet students’ needs, resulting in both higher local taxes and greater educational disparities between wealthy and poor communities.

Pennsylvania has the largest gap between per-student spending in its richest and poorest schools of any state.

Read the full op-ed here.

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