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A B-minus (in a Nation of C’s)

It’s not the first time a report card shocked parents. But for so many in the state, a B- from Education Week’s just-released Quality Counts report for Pennsylvania’s education system doesn’t come close to telling the real story. This is especially true if you don’t know the nation scored a C.

Pennsylvania posted subpar performance on measures in all three of Education Week’s scoring criteria in their annual report.

When it comes to equity in school finance, Pennsylvania has some of the lowest scores in the nation, ranking 34th overall. Of note:

•    30 states are less dependent on funding school districts with low local tax bases
•    26 states made greater strides in equalizing student spending for children in the poorest districts.
•    Pennsylvania had a bigger gap in spending between poor and wealthy districts than in 27 other states.

Placing 34th in equity in school finance should come as no surprise. After all, the state is currently being sued by districts and families for their abject failure to equitably fund schools. Before the state Supreme Court, counsel for senate leadership have brazenly maintained that just opening the doors to a building can be called a school and would fulfill their constitutional duty to provide an adequate education.

In assessing the role education plays in outcomes throughout a person’s lifetime, the report ranked Pennsylvania:

•    21st in providing family services to help children get off to a good start.
•    23rd in the nation in post-secondary educational attainment and steady employment.

Pennsylvania falls below the bar ranking 33rd in the nation when looking at low-income students’ achievement in math, reading, advanced placement scores and high school graduation rates compared to their affluent counterparts.

It is evident that on this report card a “good” grade is not a passing mark. A paltry 15.2 points separates Pennsylvania’s total score of 80.2 from 51st ranked Nevada’s score of 65.0. Nevada’s grim showing earned it a D. No state received an overall grade of F.

Pennsylvania’s score was raised by its performance on some measures. It’s grades in the three categories: B-, B and C are hardly a cause for celebration. The state’s obscenely inequitable school funding practices allow a child’s zip code to dictate whether he or she receives resources adequate to address his or her educational needs. The state of Pennsylvania is simply not contributing its share of the funds necessary to ensure that each student has a quality education.

Good students usually look forward to report card day because they know that the grades on their report cards herald the mastery of a skill. For the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, this grading cycle reveals just how much work truly needs to done to produce improved educational outcomes for our children.


There’s still time to take part in this year’s Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 16. Sign up here!

This year’s focus is on educational justice. Read more!


“No intent to murder. No violence. But he’s been locked up 32 years.” Inquirer headline, about Philly man sentenced to life in prison at 15, now eligible for parole thanks to 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decisions.



SAVE THE DATE: January 26

Are you following the Picasso Project on Twitter? Stay tuned for news about an inspiring event showcasing the power of arts education.


“More than 120,000 eligible three-and-four-year-olds lack access to publicly funded high-quality pre-k this year in the Commonwealth.” PA House Democratic Caucus, in a letter to Governor Wolf to include $85 million for 10k more pre-k slots in his 2017-2018 budget proposal. READ THE LETTER