Letters: It's time Pa. gave schools their fair share
GOV. CORBETT and the General Assembly have a legal and moral obligation to fully fund an education system that provides a quality learning experience for all children throughout the commonwealth. In order to make this a reality, the state must adopt a school-funding formula that ensures that individual school districts receive the resources they need to properly educate our children.
According to a report by the Education Law Center, in 2010 Pennsylvania contributed only 35.8 percent of the funding for our education system, ranking our commonwealth as the 10th-lowest state in the country in this regard. The report highlights Pennsylvania as one of the only states in the nation that does not use an education-funding formula designed to meet the different needs of individual school districts.
This limited approach to funding must change. When considering policy options, we should review the findings of the Rendell administration's 2007 Costing-Out Study, which evaluated the unique characteristics of individual school districts throughout the commonwealth and concluded that we need to strategically invest billions more to ensure that our young people have the opportunity to succeed.
As a former state representative, I understand that the funding formula recommended by the Costing-Out Study involved sensible, targeted investments based on real data such as achievement, socioeconomics, classroom size, language barriers and other important factors. It is time that Gov. Corbett and our state legislators implement a deliberate funding formula that provides adequate resources for all school districts from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.
In Philadelphia, we have moved to increase several taxes, closed schools and laid off scores of school employees to address the School District of Philadelphia's $300 million funding gap. It is unrealistic for the state to assume that Philadelphia can endure more local tax increases, school closings and layoffs to make up for the lack of state funding.
Adequate education funding should not be a political football for the Democrats and Republicans - it's a moral issue. Every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, or socioeconomic status is entitled to a quality education, and the government is responsible for funding and implementing that system.
Kenyatta Johnson is a Councilman serving the 2nd District.