Education advocates rally to support what proponents call ‘fair funding’ for Pennsylvania schools

Written by on June 22, 2021

Education advocates rally to support what proponents call ‘fair funding’ for Pennsylvania schools

By Chloe Nouvelle

June 22, 2021

Teachers, parents and students marched in Allentown on June 21 to support Gov. Wolf’s proposed changes to school funding. Photo | Chloe Nouvelle / WLVR

In Allentown on June 21, education advocates, parents, and students marched to support Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed changes to the way the commonwealth funds its schools.

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People showed up to rally and support a proposal Gov. Wolf introduced earlier this year. It would run a majority of education dollars through a formula that would result in a 90% increase in basic education funding for the Allentown School District.

Promise Neighborhoods’ Hasshan Batts helped organize the march. He says too many schools in the state, like Allentown are underfunded. 

“Because the funding formula is based on property taxes. So children in Allentown are getting almost half the resources and are expected to perform at the same level,” Batts says.

Inequities exist, he says. 

Photo | Chloe Nouvelle / WLVR

“Pennsylvania’s public school children are being shortchanged by billions. For the school districts of similar poverty levels, whiter districts almost always receive higher funding. And those in the poor school districts- who have fallen the furthest behind- are owed the most,” Batts says.

Marcos Jimenez just graduated from one of Allentown’s high schools. He says he spent his year remote, online.

“A lot of kids can’t learn like that,” Jimenez says. 

Many neighboring districts offered their students some in-person school days.

An education finance expert at Muhlenberg College said earlier this year that Wolf’s funding proposal would result in some struggling small and rural districts losing as much as 50% of their state funding but that the plan would also send more than $1 billion to “backfill” the money some districts lose for now.

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