Racial and economic gaps will take money to narrow, says Pa. education secretary

Written by on January 19, 2022

Racial and economic gaps will take money to narrow, says Pa. education secretary

By Avi Wolfman-Arent / Keystone Crossroads
January 19, 2022

Students attend classes in-person in the Whitehall-Coplay School District. (Photo | Chloe Nouvelle/ WLVR)

Pennsylvania’s secretary of education is a  key witness in the state’s landmark school funding trial. 

Secretary Noe Ortega took the stand Tuesday.

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Pennsylvania’s state government is being sued over the way it funds education and Ortega is a defendant in this case as a member of Gov.Tom Wolf’s administration. 

But Wolf has advocated strongly for more education funding. And his legal team has taken a back seat in this lawsuit, with the defense primarily mounted by lawyers for the GOP-controlled legislature.

Under questioning Tuesday, Ortega agreed there are stark racial and economic disparities for which Pennsylvania students go on to higher education. And he said it would be difficult to narrow those gaps without more money.

But he also agreed when defense lawyers said those gaps could be caused by factors including the cost of college.

The commonwealth court case started in November and is expected to run well into February. 

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