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Report: PA Education Funding Falls Flat

PHOTO: A new report says education funding in Pennsylvania lacks transparency, accuracy and fairness, and falls short of the standards used in the vast majority of other states.
PHOTO: A new report says education funding in Pennsylvania lacks transparency, accuracy and fairness, and falls short of the standards used in the vast majority of other states.
March 11, 2013

PHILADELPHIA - A new report says education funding in Pennsylvania lacks transparency, accuracy and fairness, and falls short of the standards used in the vast majority of other states.

According to Rhonda Brownstein, executive director of the Education Law Center, which issued the report, her group found fundamental flaws in Pennsylvania's system, and the report demonstrates how the state fails to recognize distinct characteristics of certain districts and their pupils.

"Some school districts have high numbers of children who are poor, have high numbers of children with disabilities, have larger than average number of kids who are English language learners, et cetera," she pointed out. "And educating those children costs more money. That's one big issue."

Brownstein said Pennsylvania kicks in only about 36 percent of a district's education dollars, with a small amount also coming from the federal government.

"The rest of it has to be raised by the school district, and some communities simply don't have enough valuable property to raise the money needed through property taxes to adequately educate kids," she declared.

Brownstein said Pennsylvania needs to restore the major education funding cuts put in place since Governor Tom Corbett took office two years ago, and also needs to reinstate a funding formula, which has been abandoned in recent years.

"Pennsylvania has completely dropped the ball on making sure that kids have adequate education funding," she asserted. "There's absolutely no doubt about that. Pennsylvania does not use a funding formula."

Brownstein said 47 states use an accurate pupil count and recognize different district costs when calculating education funding disbursements. She said Pennsylvania does not, and that the report raises serious questions about whether, in terms of education funding, the right amount of dollars is going to the right places.

See the full report at elc-pa.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA