If you disagree with PA school funding, the exam phase will end

HARRISBURG — “Students with learning ability are caught up in systems that do not meet their needs and are not considered“ thorough and efficient ”. One system for one person. It’s time to keep that promise. “

These conclusions were spoken by Katrina Robson, a lawyer representing the six school districts, four parents, the Pennsylvania Rural Elementary School Association, and the NAACP’s state-wide Pennsylvania branch. The Governor, who has filed a joint lawsuit in Pennsylvania court against Pennsylvania legislative leaders and educators and accused the state of an unfair school financing system, violates the educational provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The defendant is the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Senator Jake Corman, R-34 Ward, in official position as Acting President of the Pennsylvania Senate. Republican Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-100 District, officially in the position of Speaker of the Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolfe; Noe Ortega in his official position as the Pennsylvania Board of Education, and Secretary of Education.

Thursday, March 10, was the closing argument day for the case...

Since the proceedings began in front of Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer in November, the long-awaited controversial trial has taken 48 days, listening to 41 witnesses, accepting 1,100 exhibits and producing 14,600 pages of testimony, Cohn Jubelirer said. He said just before the closing argument for the eight hours on Thursday began. morning.

But nevertheless, it’s not over yet.

Legal briefs and replies will be submitted until July 6, and Corn Juberyler’s decision will continue on an unknown day.

Nevertheless, the end of the main phase of the trial represents an important milestone in cases that have passed court since 2014.

At its core is a sentence centered around the State Constitution. “The General Assembly shall provide the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to meet the needs of the Commonwealth.”

It is one of the most unequal school financing systems in the country and is heavily dependent on local property taxes, thus biasing resources towards wealthy white school districts. The Pennsylvania public school funding system is “a system of what you have and what you don’t.” Robson said, and the case may decide what to do about it.

About 52% of Pennsylvania students are educated in underfunded school districts.

Tom Desezar, on behalf of Corman, argues that “thorough and efficient is an inaccurate term,” and an important phrase in the education clause is “meeting the needs of the Commonwealth.”

He argued that it was the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the courts, to determine and respond to those needs. And if the federal people disagree with how the General Assembly responds to their needs, the solution is to vote for them absent.

Legislators’ defenses do not deny that Pennsylvania’s school funding system is unfair, but that it meets the minimum constitutional requirements to “meet the needs of the federal government.” ..

DeCesar argued that despite the pile of evidence presented, he would not challenge any particular or specific law. Instead, the proceedings accuse the “system” of failing to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities. However, the court presented only a small portion of the entire system, including technical schools, intermediate units, and charter schools, to name a few.

He said there was no testimony that these aspects of the “system” violated the educational provisions of the Constitution.

Supervisors of all six school districts in litigation — William Penn in Delaware County, Pantherley in Carbon County and Schuylkill County, Lancaster School District, Greater Johnstown in Cambria County, Wilksvar Region in Luzerne County, Shenandoah Valley in Schuylkill County — All provided testimony in the course of the trial. Multiple witnesses have multiple examples of inequality and lack of funding, including classroom overcrowding, collapse and inadequate facilities, temporary teacher dismissals, poor test scores, thorough course offerings, curriculum, and opportunities. He emphasized how it leads to a deficiency.

However, DeCesar claims that the Constitution does not guarantee any of these things, helping Lancaster’s “play deck” and talented students to take college courses at high school in Greater Johnstown. I questioned the expensive choices these school districts made, such as the program. He asked why he chose to spend money on those things, claiming that those districts were underfunded.

“There is no doubt that money is important in education,” De Cesar said. “But the argument should be stated as follows: Is the money itself important, or is the use of money important?”

Districts claiming to be underfunded must first show that they have “taken all plausible cost-cutting measures,” he said.

Sophia Lee, a lawyer representing the executive branch, agrees that most of the governor, Wolf, who spent all two terms to increase state funding for education, agrees to the proceedings in the proceedings due to lack of funding. It revealed that. district.

Despite speaking technically to defend Pennsylvania’s funding system, Lee calls the legislator’s defense in this case a “lean position,” and their expert testimony is “unreliable.” However, the enactment of a “fair funding scheme” in 2016 “begins to fulfill its promise to children that educational opportunities do not need to be specified by zip code.”

A fair financing scheme, created by a bipartisan committee under Republican Governor Tom Corbett, addresses the needs and challenges faced by poor districts and coordinates funding for each district with resources and achievements. Create a method to help fill the gap in. The problem is that until last year, fair funding was only applied to “new money” added in any year to the state’s existing basic education subsidies.

Last year’s budget also included $ 100 million in “level-up” funding, especially for underfunded schools. The next year’s Governor’s proposed budget includes $ 300 million in level-up funding for the state’s 100 most underfunded school districts. Despite the addition, the districts that the official identifies as underfunded remain underfunded, but not so much.

The establishment of a fair financing system also had unexpected implications.

As far back as 2017, researchers applying the formula to all districts found it at a price per student.Pennsylvania provides more state funding to white-populated areas than to black and Latin-student-populated areas, even at the same level of poverty.

Maura Makinani, Director of Legal Affairs at the Center for Educational Law, will speak at a press conference outside the courtroom on Thursday. (Image from screenshot)

The case highlighted “unjustice,” Maura Makinani, director of the Legal Department at the Center for Education Law, said at a press conference in front of the court after the proceedings were over.

“Black and brown students are disproportionately affected by this two-tier funding system, with the most and least needs of poor children,” she said. “The impact of neglect of their obligations by the General Assembly is serious and it has consequences.”

“What has happened in court since November is the first in history, a comprehensive set of testimony and evidence presented on the issue of the Pennsylvania school funding system,” said the Managing Director of the Center for Educational Law. Deborah Gordon Claire says. “The court hears a detailed explanation of how lack of funding can lead to inadequate education for students in low-income districts, and the extreme disparities between districts that affect students living in poverty and black and brown students in particular. I’ve also heard that there are programs and support that could affect the reduction of inequality, but they haven’t been implemented due to lack of funding. “

Dan Urevic Akkelsburg, a staff lawyer at the Public Interest Law Center, said that funding a school district with better funding than other school districts shouldn’t be a zero-sum game, and some people will benefit. He said some would lose. “You don’t have to do this,” he said.

Stephen Rodriguez, director of the Pottstown School.

Stephen Rodriguez, one of the ten most underfunded districts in the state and chairman of the Pennsylvania City Schools Federation and director of the Pottstown School, has affected the injustices inherent in the state’s school funding system. I saw it in person.

And he agreed with Klehr. He clearly wants the proceedings to be decided in favor of a more equitable financing system, but “Pennsylvania knows the true picture of system discrepancies and injustices, which is really. The trial is important, regardless of the outcome, just because it is important. Rodriguez said.

“Because I came to Pottstown from a suburban district where I used to work, the serious inequality in how Pennsylvania funded districts like us was not only immediately apparent, but also morally wrong. I did.

He wasn’t quiet. Rodriguez has spoken at several fair funding rallies such as Harrisburg and Pottstown.

He said the General Assembly needs to consider public education that produces useful and free-thinking citizens who are ready to join the Republic to “meet the needs of the Commonwealth.” “Without educated citizens, this country, the Federation, would face serious problems.”

And defending the inadequacy of the public education system by splitting legal hair raises a bigger question: “Is the law made for man or for man?” Was it done? “Rodriguez said. “Winning the legal debate may look good on paper, but it doesn’t change the fate of education for students in underfunded school districts.”

He said the proceedings were only the next step in making the system more equitable. “For some reason, we will have to pay the invoice.”

If you disagree with PA school funding, the exam phase will end

Source link If you disagree with PA school funding, the exam phase will end

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