Over the last two weeks, leaders, parents and students stood up to celebrate a recent victory for all Pennsylvanians, especially students, at PCCY press conferences in each county. They brought their passion for public education, their grief over the failures of the current system, and their impatience over the apparent indifference of state officials to do their jobs.
Most importantly, they brought a new sense of hope that change could be coming.
Last month, we told you about the PA Supreme Court’s decision to allow a lawsuit to proceed brought by districts and parents against the governor, legislators, and the PA Department of Education. At its core, the suit says the three parties have failed in their duty to provide a “thorough and efficient” education system that offers every student “equal protection,” as mandated by the PA constitution.
Major changes in how education is funded in this country have happened as a result of the courts. To hear it from our speakers, it’s time for justice in Pennsylvania.
“I’m excited for our students. I know this is just the first step in this process, and I hope we move quickly on this. We can’t afford to wait,” said Jane Ann Harbert, superintendent of the William Penn School District.
As districts across the commonwealth have long-suffered inadequate, inequitable funding with no relief in sight, it’s understandable that we have become somewhat inured to the pain. So when the Supreme Court reverses an over 20 year precedent, compelling the Commonwealth Court to hear the case, it’s a major win and a great relief.
One of our most compelling speakers was also our youngest. Penn Wood High School’s Nia Lartey, senior class president, who has seen funding disparity with her own eyes and has had to deal with inadequate education funding in her own academic career.
“I just went to Lower Merion High last week, and they have a pool. They don’t have to fight for a threadbare textbook,” she said. “Their students are, I would say, very blessed …. Lower Merion, Upper Darby, even Springfield, their students are better funded than we are. It’s only by their zip code. And that’s not right.”
That state education funding in Pennsylvania is unfair and inadequate isn’t in dispute outside of a courtroom. Neither is who is responsible for this chronic failure; a failure that profoundly affects every family, business, and institution in PA. But hope has come to Bucks, Montgomery, and Delaware that the governor, legislators, and the Department of Education will finally be held accountable by the only authority that can do so.
Thanks to the Supreme Court, our students could actually learn in school that things can get better.
We’re all hoping for that teachable moment.
Save the date and register for “Not a Crime to be Poor,” with author Peter Edelman, PA Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, Philly Democratic nominee for DA Larry Krasner, and the ACLU’s Bill Cobb. Learn more about this thought-provoking event, co-sponsored by PCCY.
Thanks to hundreds of volunteers and our amazing Give Kids Sight Day partners, we served 1,200 children last week. Stay tuned for an update but, in the meantime, check out this photo gallery from Metro.
“I just went to Lower Merion High last week, and they have a pool. They don’t have to fight for a threadbare textbook. Their students are, I would say, very blessed …. their students are better funded than we are. It’s only by their zip code. And that’s not right.” Nia Lartey, Senior class president, Penn Wood High School.