Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Play

Massachusetts steps up for Puerto Rico, the White House convenes its first hunger conference in more than 50 years, and hydroponics could be the future of tomatoes in California.

Play

Arizona's Sen. Kyrsten Simema defends the filibuster, the CBO says student loan forgiveness could cost $400 billion, and whistleblower Edward Snowden is granted Russian citizenship.

Play

The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts two winters across the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act could level the playing field for rural electric co-ops, and pharmacies are dwindling in rural America.

New PA School Year: Underfunded Districts, Unresolved Lawsuit

Play

Wednesday, August 10, 2022   

CORRECTION: The $3.7 billion figure represents an increase in education investments during the eight-year Wolf Administration, not the Pennsylvania state education budget, which is $16 billion. (1:25 p.m. MDT, Aug. 10, 2022)

After eight years, the Pennsylvania school-funding lawsuit is in the hands of the judge, creating a waiting game heading into the new school year.

The oral argument ended in July. Advocates argued the way Pennsylvania schools are funded violates the education clause and equal-protection provision of the state constitution.

Deborah Gordon Klehr, executive director of the Education Law Center, said students of color are disproportionately affected in underfunded districts in low-wealth communities, where they lack such basics as functioning school libraries and up-to-date textbooks.

"The inadequate resources prevent many Pennsylvania students from meeting academic standards set by the state," Klehr asserted. "The state legislature has an obligation to ensure that every student, not only those living in select ZIP codes, receive the basic resources they need."

Klehr added Pennsylvania has one of the widest gaps between low-wealth and high-wealth school districts in the nation. A typical high-wealth district in the commonwealth spends about $4,800 more per student than a low-wealth district, and the gap has been growing.

With trial proceedings are over, Klehr acknowledged the judge's decision may take some time, and predicted it may not signal the end of the battle.

"We are confident about our case," Klehr stated. "But whatever the outcome, an appeal by the losing side is likely, to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court."

Klehr noted the General Assembly does not have to wait for the outcome of the case. It has a legal obligation under the state constitution to solve the school-funding crisis as soon as possible.

Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced his administration had increased education funding by more than $3.7 billion since 2015, including a $1.8 billion increase for the coming school year.

Klehr emphasized it is an important confirmation of the spending levels needed in coming years.

"Those kinds of increases will need to be sustained in the years ahead to help get local districts to adequate, equitable levels of funding," Klehr contended. "And bring Pennsylvania up from the bottom in the share of education funding that is provided by the state."

Klehr stressed Pennsylvania currently relies on local funding for schools more than almost any other state. Her organization advocates shifting the funding system to recognize the very different needs of different communities.

Disclosure: The Education Law Center contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Education, and Human Rights/Racial Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
Groups that track disinformation say purveyors sometimes back up their claims by referencing fake "think tanks," or by linking to other pages on their own website. (Feng Yu)

Social Issues

A Nevada democracy watchdog group said social media, blogs, websites and hyperpartisan news organizations are all working overtime to spread …


Social Issues

Education officials in Ohio want state leaders to invest in free school meals for all students. Pandemic-era federal waivers enabling schools to …

Environment

Agriculture researchers say if the U.S. wants more farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices, they will need to be offered some proven incentives…


Researchers say if states required more lighting and reflection on farm vehicles, traffic crashes involving this heavy equipment could decrease by more than half. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

As the fall harvest season takes shape in South Dakota, an agricultural specialist said there are many ways motorists and farmers can avoid crashes …

Social Issues

Massachusetts residents are being asked to step up, just as they did five years ago, to help their fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. The …

Nearly 640,000 people were considered food insecure in Washington state in 2020, according to the nonprofit Feeding America. (timonko/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

It's been more than 50 years since the White House held a gathering about the effects of hunger across the nation. In 1969, the White House held its …

Social Issues

By Caleigh Wells for KCRW.Broadcast version by Suzanne Potter for California News Service reporting for the KCRW-Public News Service Collaboration Wh…

Social Issues

As the midterm elections approach, there are concerns about whether Latino voters will turn out as much as they have in past elections. In New York…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021