Save the Date: School Funding Trial Oral Argument, July 26
Oral argument will be held in the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg. 

Mark your calendar: we'll be back in the courtroom fighting for fair school funding at post-trial oral argument on July 26, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 3001 of the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg.

The argument will be livestreamed by Commonwealth Court on their YouTube page. We will share the link to the livestream, as well as information about in-person attendance, when we know more. You can find the latest information at Fund Our Schools PA.

What kind of education do students in Pennsylvania public schools have a right to receive under the Pennsylvania State Constitution? Attorneys from both sides will address this pivotal question during oral argument.

We believe we will prove, as we did at trial, that the Pennsylvania State Constitution demands high quality public education in every community, so that all students have the support they need to prepare for careers, further education, and civic participation. Our current two-tiered school funding system, divided by local wealth, fails to meet that standard.

This oral argument is the final scheduled proceeding before Commonwealth Court makes its decision in the case. The court’s decision could come several months after oral argument.
Our 2021 annual report, Lessons Learned, is now available online!
Our 2021 annual report, Lessons Learned, is now available to view online! Keep an eye on your mailbox--you should receive a copy within a few weeks.

In our 2021 annual report, take a look inside the courtroom during the Pennsylvania school funding trial, and the experience of educators and families who brought the case. Our work in 2021 took us in many directions, and the Law Center remained at the forefront of fights for voting rights, safe housing, environmental justice, and more in Pennsylvania. Through it all, we learned that realizing our mission is an ever-evolving pursuit of creative strategies, connections to community, and holistic problem solving, undertaken with perseverance and grit. View a digital booklet of our annual report on Issuu.

Take Action: Tell the General Assembly to Level Up the furthest behind school districts
It's July 5, and our General Assembly still has not passed a state budget. Republican legislative leaders have passed soon-to-be vetoed bills targeting LGBT students, but have not yet come together to support all students in Pennsylvania public schools with meaningful investments in state funding--while Pennsylvania has a record budget surplus.

With budget negotiations ongoing, you can make your voice heard for fairness in public education. The state legislature is currently considering a proposal to send additional education funding to Level Up the 100 Pennsylvania school districts that are the most deeply underfunded. These districts serve hundreds of thousands of students in every corner of the commonwealth--and they have been shortchanged for decades by a funding system that is overly reliant on local wealth.

Contact your state lawmakers today and tell them you support the inclusion of at least a $300 million allocation for Level Up in this year's state budget. You can write a letter to your lawmakers using this tool from Education Voters of PA, or you can find your state representative and senator's contact information here.

Included in last years' state budget, Level Up shows that the state legislature acknowledges the widening gaps between the haves and have-nots in Pennsylvania public education. Though Level Up alone cannot fill in the gap between what students have and what they need in Pennsylvania, it is a necessary step towards equity for the communities that have been left behind the most. It means more support for the students who currently get the least, because they live in low-wealth communities.
Our Executive Director Brenda Marrero named to the City & State PA Law Power 100
Our Executive Director Brenda Marrero was recognized by City & State PA as part of the 2022 Law Power 100, a list of 100 attorneys shaping the future of Pennsylvania, in recognition of her work leading the Law Center in fights for quality health care, public education, and gun safety.

Help congratulate Brenda by liking our post on Facebook!
We make key legal arguments for fair school funding in our post-trial brief
This photo, shown during Superintendent Arcurio’s testimony, shows a mural in Greater Johnstown’s former middle school facility that was closed in 2017 when deteriorating conditions were deemed unsafe for students. The center of the mural reads “the doorway to our future.”

On June 1, we filed our post-trial brief in the Pennsylvania school funding lawsuit, expanding on the legal arguments heard in Commonwealth Court during the four month trial.

“The Constitution demands the provision of a high-quality, contemporary education for every child in the Commonwealth,” the brief reads.

The solution the school districts, parents, and organizations who sued the state are seeking, we write, “could not be more basic. The General Assembly must provide children the safe, modern buildings, books and technology, and sufficient professional staff that every party agrees will enable students to succeed. And the General Assembly must ensure that the education funding system does not discriminate against children from low-wealth districts.” 

We also address the arguments made by legislative leaders during trial and in their post-trial findings of fact and conclusions of law.

“Legislative Respondents’ proposed standard describes a system that will pass constitutional muster so long as it provides students certain ‘standard basic’ ‘instrumentalities of learning’ even if those instrumentalities are not actually sufficient to provide students with the ‘standard basic’ skills they need—such as the ability to read and write,” the brief reads. Read the brief here.
Law Center in the News: We respond to Jeff Yass in The Wall Street Journal

In a June Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Money for Children, Not Schools," Jeff Yass--Pennsylvania's richest man--touted a free market fantasy of universal school vouchers, defunding all public schools, as a solution to what he calls failing school systems.

Law Center attorney Michael Churchill responded to Yass's argument in a June 30 letter to the editor, also featured in The Wall Street Journal's print edition. He points out that Yass's spending figures for the School District of Philadelphia were inflated by more than $5,000 per student, and that the district spends $4,000 less per student than the state median when student need is accounted for.

"[Yass] ignores that where schools are adequately funded, students flourish," Churchill writes. "It is underfunded schools—serving students with the highest need for additional help—that have deplorable outcomes."

Lawmakers in Harrisburg are currently considering their own experiment in school vouchers, HB 2169, which would divert millions of taxpayer dollars from struggling public schools to private schools--no strings attached. Jerry Zahorchak, a former PA Secretary of Education, wrote a June 30 op-ed in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat critiquing this bill and urging our state senate to vote no.
Join us for a free virtual Vacant Land 215 training on July 14
Want to learn more about community gardening and farming on vacant land in Philadelphia? Join us for a free online Vacant Land 215 training! Come discuss legal land access and preservation for gardens, farms, and other community-managed open spaces.

The program will feature presentations from our Garden Justice Legal Initiative, Neighborhood Gardens Trust and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. Registration is required.

Date: Thursday, July 14

Time: 12:00-1:30 p.m.

Place: Online via Zoom