Campaign for Fair Education Funding report makes case for basic education increase of at least $410 million and a new funding formula
We are a leading member of the Campaign, which released a report on September 9 demonstrating why state lawmakers need to adopt a fully funded formula for public education.
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding’s report, “Lifting All Students, Why Pennsylvania Must Act Now to Fairly Fund Public Education and Secure Our Future,” demonstrates what is at stake if lawmakers do not act quickly and begin making a significant, long-term and equitable investment in public education.
The Campaign – a diverse group of more than 50 organizations committed to improving public education in Pennsylvania – is calling on state lawmakers to adopt a budget that increases basic education funding by at least $410 million to help school districts recover from past funding cuts, targeted at bringing districts back to the 2010 funding level as a base year, and begin implementation of the new funding formula that was unanimously adopted by the state’s Basic Education Funding Commission.
In late August, the state missed its scheduled payment of more than $1 billion to Pennsylvania school districts because of state lawmakers’ failure to enact a state budget. With the impasse in its 71st day, the Campaign’s report provides factual support and funding comparisons supporting the need for fair education funding now.
One proposal – contained in the Governor’s proposed budget – increases basic education funding by $410 million in fiscal year 2015-16, while the other – included in the budget passed by the Legislature but vetoed by the Governor – proposes a considerably smaller increase of $100 million.
The report lists six examples of how the two proposals would affect disparate school districts across the state, and the appendix compares how the two scenarios would affect all 500 school districts.
“The Campaign’s report shows how the education funding proposals being debated in Harrisburg play out on the local level,” said Campaign spokesperson Charlie Lyons. “Whether it translates into smaller class sizes, a wider range of educational programs, or additional supports for struggling students, full and fair funding has a real impact on students’ lives.”
Highlighting that Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap of any state in the country, along with economic, racial and ethnic achievement gaps in education, the Campaign’s report draws on numerous reports, briefs and public opinion polls establishing why money matters when it comes to student performance in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania currently does not have a data-driven public school funding system that takes into account factors such as student enrollment, challenges faced by students such as poverty or English language learning, the effect of charter school enrollment, and the unique characteristics of school districts like population density, community wealth and local taxing effort and capacity. The report endorses the funding formula recommended by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission, which contains such factors.
The report notes that failing to quickly remedy budget cuts made in recent years – and the glaring disparities in the way public education is funded – will result in even wider achievement gaps that will shortchange children and continue to hold back the state’s economy.
The Campaign believes that Pennsylvania must fundamentally change how basic education is funded, so every student across the state has access to a quality education no matter where that student lives.
For more information on the Campaign, visit www.fairfundingpa.org.