The Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees every child a right to a “thorough and efficient” public education. For decades, the state has been shirking its constitutional obligation. Pennsylvania ranks 43th in state share for education, putting the heavy tax burden on local districts to fill the $4.6 billion void, leaving poorer district insufficiently funded. Black, Hispanic, and low-income students suffer disproportionately.
Nearly a decade ago, several parents and school districts took the state to court and sued to fix the unfair and chronic funding shortfall. On February 7, 2023, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court unequivocally ruled that the state’s current school funding system is unconstitutional. It recognized that education is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution to all children—and that this right has been denied in low-wealth districts.
“[The state’s] Education Clause was clearly, palpably, and plainly violated because of a failure to provide all students with access to a comprehensive, effective, and contemporary system of public education that will give them a meaningful opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and civically,” wrote Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Jubilerer.
Now the ball is in the General Assembly’s court (pun intended) and we need to put pressure on legislators and Governor Shapiro to allocate the additional $4.6 billion to meet the state’s constitutional obligation to our children’s future.
- Follow us (@childrenfirstpa) on social media on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram for updates and action alerts so you can speak up for public education to your lawmakers.
- Visit the Thorough And Efficient website – a joint effort by Children First and Education Voters PA – for updates.
- Visit FundOurSchoolsPA.org to check out witness summaries and an interactive map to see how school districts across the state are funded.
- Listen to students share their thoughts on the trial as part of our PENNding Funds Podcast. These quick (4-minute) podcast episodes with students from the William Penn School District really bring the high-level debates over funding down to a personal, and often emotional, level.
It’s a very exciting time to be an education advocate in Pennsylvania! The Court’s decision could radically improve the lives of millions of children and shape our Commonwealth’s future for generations to come.