State Supreme Court Hears Funding Challenge

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

In School Funding, Pa. High Court Must Not Usurp Legislature
Student-Based Funding Formula, Not Court Mandate, Is Best for Pa. Students

September 13, 2016, HARRISBURG, Pa.—As the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court hears a challenge to the state’s school funding formula today, at issue is the power of the judiciary as well as the truth about Pennsylvania’s education funding.

"Education funding is the responsibility of the Legislature, not the courts," commented James Paul, senior policy analyst with the Commonwealth Foundation. "Unfortunately, asking the courts to interfere in the classroom not only sets a concerning precedent but also perpetuates the myth that more dollars automatically lead to more scholars. We all agree that children deserve the best education possible, but bringing the courtroom into the classroom is not the answer."

Pennsylvania’s average per-student spending currently stands at $15,500, more than $3,000 above the national average. Even in high-poverty districts, Pennsylvania exceeds the national average in spending per student, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education.

"If we are spending more and more yet not seeing the desired results, we need to look at other solutions," Paul continued. "The Legislature and Gov. Wolf did well to enact a student-based funding formula earlier this year that accounts for student enrollment. Now, the state must apply this formula to all education funding, not just new funding.

"Additionally, Pennsylvania must take further steps to empower parents and students with educational options instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all approach. Calls for more funding are really calls for educational hope and opportunity. This won’t come via court ruling but through student-based funding and educational choice."

James Paul and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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