Published in The Philadelphia Inquirer February 21, 2022
By Joseph Batory
The current Commonwealth court case re public education funding has finally given Pennsylvania’s schools and the children they serve their day in court.
But will justice prevail? The evidence of the need to improve Pennsylvania fair share of public education funding is overwhelming. For many years, Pennsylvania’s share of public education funding has violated the Pennsylvania Constitution denying students an equal opportunity to receive an adequate education by adopting an irrational means of financing public education. This abdication of responsibility by Pennsylvania elected officials (Republican dominated legislatures and Republican governors) has created hundreds of underfunded school systems as well a tragic apartheid of rich and poor schools across the State.
The “spin doctors” testifying for the defendants in this case have absurdly argued that money doesn’t matter. These “experts” must have recently arrived from another planet. Try telling the corporate and business sectors in our world that “money doesn’t matter.”
Pennsylvania school children deserve safe and adequate facilities without staff shortages, state of the art curricula, up to date educational materials, and state of the art technology. Of course, money matters and Pennsylvania is guilty as charged!!!!
(Author’s Note: As a superintendent of schools in Upper Darby, PA (1984-1999), my school district suffered through years of inadequate funding from Pennsylvania.
On November 15, 2007, The Philadelphia Inquirer, published a page one independent report from the GoodSchoolsPa organization validating this terrible betrayal of Pennsylvania’s public schools and the children they serve over a long period of years by State politicians.
Here are some of the findings of that study: At that time (2007), Pennsylvania was underfunding public education by $4.8 billion. And Pennsylvania ranked 45th among the 50 states in the percentage of school funding that comes from the State. This analysis noted that to correct the situation by equalizing what is spent for each student in Pennsylvania and allowing the State’s poorer public schools to just “catch up” to the statewide adequate cost per pupil, many school districts in Pennsylvania were entitled to huge financial adjustments of State funding. As just two examples, Philadelphia’s public schools were owed $1 billion and Upper Darby’s public schools (my old school district) $54 million from the State.
What this adds up to is a massive betrayal of Pennsylvania’s public schools by the State’s elected officials!)