NEITHER THOROUGH NOR EFFICIENT: SCHOOL FUNDING INEQUITY IN PENNSYLVANIA David Sciarra Education Law Center Pa. State Conference of NAACP Conference on Education, May 25, 2012
The Right to Education • The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.” Pa. Const. art. 3, § 14.
What is “Fair” School Funding? “Fair” school funding is defined as a state finance system that provides a sufficient level of funding to ensure equality of educational opportunity, with funding distributed to districts within the state to account for additional needs generated by student poverty.
Fair School Funding: Core Principles • States should provide varying levels of funding to ensure equal educational opportunities to children with different needs. • A “progressive” finance system allocates more funding to districts with high levels of student poverty; a “regressive” system allocates less to those districts; and a “flat” system allocates roughly the same across districts with varying needs.
State C (Avg. implicit base rev., progressive) State B (Avg. implicit base rev., highly regressive) State & Local Revenue per Pupil State A (Low revenue, poverty “flat”) Low Poverty High Poverty
Does Federal Funding Matter? • Less than 10% of school funding is federal funds • Too small to have any effect on Fairness • Title 1, RTT, etc.: “Subsidizing Inequity” • New direction: drive states to make underlying finance systems fair
Does Fair Funding Mean Better Student Outcomes?
Takeaways • Fair School Funding: Essential precondition to reform efforts to close achievement gaps • Key to Effective Teaching, Closing Gaps • Urgent need for state school finance reform • “Resistance is Deep” • New Federal Policies: Title I and Federal Grants to leverage states to improve funding fairness
And While We’re At It.... • Access to high quality Pre-K for every low income child, and every child in a low income community • State Pre-K Systems: unify Head Start, Child Care and Public School Pre-K • Right to attend school in safe and educationally adequate facilities • State capital program – assess need, ensure financing
David Sciarra, Esq. Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org For MoreInformation: Education Law Center Standing Up for Public School Children www.edlawcenter.org 60 Park Place, Suite 300 Newark, NJ 07102 Phone: 973.624.1815 Fax: 973.624.7339