Pennsylvania’s school funding system declared unconstitutional
After 8 years, William Penn SD v. PA Dept of Ed. has reached a verdict that “every student receives a meaningful opportunity to succeed academically."
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After an eight-year journey, the William Penn SD v. PA Dept. of Education has reached a verdict—President Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer has declared that Pennsylvania's school funding system is unconstitutional.
“The findings regarding inputs, such as funding, courses, curricula and programs, staffing, facilities, and instrumentalities of learning, demonstrate manifest deficiencies between low-wealth districts, such as Petitioner Districts, and their more affluent counterparts,” the court order states. “Educators credibly testified to lacking the very resources state officials have identified as essential to student achievement, some of which are as basic as safe and temperate facilities in which children can learn.”
The court order also reveals that educators had to choose which students would “benefit from limited resources they could afford to provide, despite knowing more students needed the same resources”— demonstrating achievement gaps for Blacks, Hispanics, ELL students, and economically-disadvantaged students.
The court DECLARES as follows:
1. The Education Clause, article III, section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, requires that every student receive a meaningful opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and civically, which requires that all students have access to a comprehensive, effective, and contemporary system of public education;
2. Respondents have not fulfilled their obligations to all children under the Education Clause in violation of the rights of Petitioners;
3. Education is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution to all school-age children residing in the Commonwealth;
4. Article III, section 32 of the Pennsylvania Constitution imposes upon Respondents an obligation to provide a system of public education that does not discriminate against students based on the level of income and value of taxable property in their school districts;
5. Students who reside in school districts with low property values and incomes are deprived of the same opportunities and resources as students who reside in school districts with high property values and incomes;
6. The disparity among school districts with high property values and incomes and school districts with low property values and incomes is not justified by any compelling government interest nor is it rationally related to any legitimate government objective; and
7. As a result of these disparities, Petitioners and students attending low- wealth districts are being deprived of equal protection of law.