Unequal and Insufficient Education Funding in PA
Must Come To An End
Hughes Introduces the Emergency Equal Education Plan
"I feel like I’m in jail!" - 4th Grade Student from Cassidy Elementary School
I’m introducing the Emergency Equal Education Program that would address significant school building needs and resolve major education funding inequities.
Senate Bill 777 would fund $5 billion in infrastructure repairs and renovations at schools by creating the Schools of the Future Repair, Rebuild and Revitalize Plan. Senate Bill 778 would ensure that $3.25 billion over five years would go toward improving and enhancing classroom programs and supports by creating the Academic Success Program.
This legislation aligns with efforts by the 21st Century School Fund, which is a national coalition of which I am a part that is working to ensure modern and equitable public schools.
Both bills would be funded by taxing Marcellus Shale drilling and by driving more dollars from the Basic Education Funding Formula toward these critical needs. We are the only state that does not impose a natural gas extraction tax and itís time for these companies to start paying their fair share. The Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office, in its April 2017 report, predicts that a modest 6.5% tax on gas extraction would raise $349 million in Fiscal Year 2017-18, $712 million in 2018-19, $755 million in 2019-20, $931 million in 2020-21 and $1.5 billion in 2021-22.
PA’s Separate and Unequal Education System
We know that school funding inequities exist in Pennsylvania. I’ve seen it firsthand in my Senatorial district.
But this is not unique to our area. Education inequality exists in urban and rural school districts alike. Children in some schools are learning in buildings with rodents, contaminated drinking water and outdated textbooks. Meanwhile, students in other schools can access the latest technologies to bolster their education. Children across Pennsylvania deserve better.
In December of 2016, the Philadelphia School District released a detailed report which analyzed the infrastructure needs of each of its school buildings. That report showed that the $4.5 billion was needed to repair, rebuild and revitalize Philadelphia’s crumbling schools.
A more vivid demonstration of the need in Philadelphia’s schools was recently provided by the students at the Lewis Cassidy Academics Plus Elementary School in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia. The fourth graders really opened our eyes to the impact that their physically deficient school is having on them.
Cassidy fourth-grader Chelsea Mungo recently wrote to me about the need to fund schools, asking “Why does the color of the students’ skin matter how much money we get for our school?” Cassidy students also visited me last Tuesday at the Capitol as part of the Young Heroes Outreach Program; in return, I visited their school last Thursday to announce my new legislation, which directly addresses their concerns.
In addition to the students’ testimonials, we have numerous reports and studies that show funding inequities and a specific racial disparity in funding:
Learn more about the issues and provide your feedback on my website at senatorhughes.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@SenatorHughes).
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes