Education & the PA Constitution

Education is an essential element of equal citizenship. Without an adequate education, a person’s ability to gain employment and navigate society is greatly harmed – often irreparably.

Recognizing that equal education opportunity for all is only possible through a strong public school system, the drafters of the Pennsylvania Constitution included a powerful mandate requiring the state to provide a “thorough and efficient” public school system. In order to ensure that all are educated equally, the Constitution also prohibits funds from being provided to sectarian schools or other schools outside of state control.

Today, with so many school districts in low-income and minority communities leaving their students without any real education, Pennsylvania’s public school system clearly violates our Constitution. Though our attempt to enforce the Constitution through litigation was blocked by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Law Center continues to work to fully implement and further reform the Constitution’s educational mandates through advocacy and coalition building.

Our Work

Letter to Governor Corbett: Fix the Systemic Funding Failure

The Law Center recently authored a collaborative letter to Governor Corbett concerning the dire state of Pennsylvania’s underfunded schools and unconstitutional funding system. In partnership with the Education Law Center, Education Voters Pennsylvania, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools, and Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, the Law Center submitted this letter to the Governor urging the state legislature to deal with this critical, systemic failure: “A system that fails to provide for the academic success of its students is not just an academic problem. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workers, citizens and taxpayers. To the extent we fail them today, Pennsylvania’s communities will fail in the future.”

Proposed Voucher Bill Violates Pa Constitution, According To Analysis

According to an analysis conducted by a coalition of public education advocates including the Law Center’s Michael Churchill, the creation of a taxpayer-funded voucher system as proposed in Senate Bill 1 would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution. Read more

Changes in Pa. Constitution Needed to Make Education Mandate Enforceable, Funding More Equitable

Law Center attorney Michael Churchill testified before the Public Education Subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Constitutional Review Commission about the state Constitution’s mandate to maintain a “thorough and efficient” public school system. Read more

See other Education Equity Past Cases