Yesterday Pennsylvania's Supreme Court heard oral argument in our fair school funding lawsuit. It was a huge day for Pennsylvania's public schools and students, as hundreds of parents, students, superintendents, and school board members - some from as far away as Erie and Pittsburgh - filled the courtroom, an overflow court room, and crowded the hallways in Philadelphia's City Hall.
Our pro bono counsel delivered a strong argument on behalf of our plaintiffs, urging the Supreme Court to authorize judicial review of the state's failure to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution's Education Clause and Equal Protection provisions and address both the inadequacy and inequity of our school funding system.
We argued that our plaintiffs should have their day in court to show that years of underfunding by the state legislature violates the Education Clause's mandate to "support and maintain" a "thorough and efficient system of public education."
Attorneys for the state argued that the court has no role at all to play in enforcing the Education Clause and that the legislature has done its job as long as it has created a school system. This is a disappointing position for our legislators and executive branch to take when our children are being educated in overcrowded classrooms in crumbling school buildings without the basic resources they need to learn.
Governor Wolf recently voiced his opposition to the lawsuit,
arguing that he and the legislature are working to fix an admittedly broken system for funding education through the use of the new basic education funding formula. While the formula is an important first step, a formula is only as good as the dollars driven through it. Only a tiny percentage of education funding goes through this formula and it does nothing at all to increase the overall state share of education funding that is grossly inadequate to meet student needs.
Following the hearing, a large, spirited rally took place on the north side of City Hall. Speakers and attendees included State Senator Vincent Hughes, representatives from the parent and school district petitioners, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym, clergy from Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER), advocates from Education Voters of PA and the NAACP, and attorneys from the Public Interest Law Center and the Education Law Center-PA.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision of the appeal sometime after the oral argument, although there is no specific deadline. You can read more about today's hearing and rally
on our website
Thanks for your interest and support! We look forward to the opportunity to make the case for our public schools and students at a full trial.