Analysis & Research

ELC regularly provides parents, policymakers, school officials, media members, and others reliable, understandable analysis and research on education laws and policies in Pennsylvania.

Fair School Funding

Analysis & Research

  • ELC wrote this letter to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission in reference to SRC Resolution B-4 on alternative education programs in April 2017, urging the Commission to postpone consideration of the Camelot contract to allow additional time for review and discussion and to raise significant concerns about the multi-year charter school renewals scheduled for a vote.

    Download PDF

  • A responsible charter school law must empower local governing bodies to strategically control charter growth as a tool to increase quality options and improve our system of public education for all communities. The charter school law should not force blind expansion on already burdened systems and compel the loss of neighborhood schools options. The Education Law Center wrote this letter to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in April 2017 urging them to oppose HB 97, the purported charter reform legislation.

    Please also view our fact sheet on HB 97.

    Download PDF

  • March, 2017

    The Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees that children across the state have access to a “thorough and efficient” system of public education, one that enables them to meet comprehensive state academic standards and graduation requirements. Despite this constitutional mandate, hundreds of thousands of children—particularly children of color and children in poorer communities—are denied the school resources they need to be successful in school and beyond. This Education Law Center report details the race and class inequities in Pennsylvania’s school funding system, building on ELC’s 2013 report “Funding, Formulas, and Fairness.”

    Download the full report, “Money Matters in Education Justice.”

    Download the Executive Summary.

    Read our press release.

     

    Download PDF

  • December 11, 2015: Pennsylvania’s public school funding crisis cannot be resolved by legislating new costs that will eventually exceed new revenues. Unfortunately, the School Code bill recently passed by the Pennsylvania Senate and under consideration in the House of Representatives would do just that. Revenues provided under a bipartisan budget deal would be swallowed up by the new costs associated with rapid charter school expansion. Statewide, charter schools would be permitted to open new buildings, add new grades, and expand their enrollment with almost no limitations. In Philadelphia, where the district is already under state control and over a third of students already attend charter schools, the legislation would place numerous schools under a different state operator, this time the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and convert many of them into charter schools – all still without ensuring those schools have adequate funding.

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  • ELC Staff Attorney David Lapp’s recommendations on charter school legislation being considered by Pennsylvania State Legislature in June, 2015. Discussion includes a comparison of HB 530, PN 569 and SB 856, PN 968.

    Download PDF

  • Education Law Center Staff Attorney David Lapp’s testimony to the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission on November 18, 2014, entitled “Time for a Rational Fix to the Special Education Tuition in Pennsylvania Charter Schools.”

    Download PDF

  • ELC Research and Policy Fellow Ian Gavigan’s testimony presented to Philadelphia City Council on the importance of predictable school funding to serve the most at-risk children in the Philadelphia School District on 5/27/2015.

     

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  • Education Law Center Staff Attorney David Lapp’s May 13, 2015 letter to the Senate Education Committee considers the benefits and drawbacks of legislation that would create a new state-operated, state-wide “Achievement School District” in Pennsylvania.

    (more…)

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  • Education Law Center Attorney David Lapp’s Feb. 18, 2015 testimony to the School Reform Commission of Philadelphia examines the legal precedents for considering the fiscal stability of a school district when reviewing charter school applications.

    Download PDF

  • On Feb. 2, 2015, the Education Law Center submitted comments on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015 Discussion Draft.

    The reauthorization of the ESEA offers an opportunity to update our nation’s primary federal education law to build upon the lessons learned since the last reauthorization. The Education Law Center urges Congress to reauthorize the ESEA in 2015 and address a number of priorities, including: Maintain a strong federal role in promoting equity and accountability; encourage states to fund schools equitably; protect Title I dollars for the poorest schools and districts; and act to end school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline.

    Read ELC’s full comments.

    Download PDF

  • Education Law Center Attorney David Lapp’s December 11, 2014 testimony to the School District of Philadelphia examines the legislative intent of Pennsylvania’s charter school law and how the District should view the latest round of charter school applications.

    “There is tremendous promise in the theory of independently-operated public schools that are accountable for equitably serving all kinds of students, achieve superior results, and ultimately increase quality educational options in the larger system of public education. Unfortunately, we do not have such a system in Philadelphia.

    Until we do, the district is fully within its legal right to restrict charter school growth. Indeed, in order to comply with the legislative intent of the charter school law and with our state constitutional mandate for a “thorough and efficient system of public education,” the district is legally compelled to restrict charter growth.”

    Download PDF

  • House Bill 2138 and Senate Bill 1316 are companion bills that represent an important first step toward fixing the state’s broken system for special education funding and accountability.

    Bills HB 2138 and SB 1316 present a formula for distributing new special education dollars based on the work of the General Assembly’s Special Education Funding Commission. The two bills use the cost data from the Commission to create three cost categories for students with disabilities and use accurate enrollment data to determine the number of students in each of those categories — finally aligning resources with the actual cost of serving children with disabilities.

     

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  • Education Law Center Attorney David Lapp’s March 7, 2014 testimony at the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s hearing highlights significant demographic disparities when comparing brick-and-mortar charter schools as a whole in Philadelphia to the School District of Philadelphia schools.

    (more…)

    Download PDF

  • The Special Education Funding Commission held public hearings throughout the state in 2013, receiving testimony from dozens of witnesses. Students, parents, educators, and national experts uniformly emphasized the long-term impact of the state funding system on the ability of schools to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

    (more…)

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  • The Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 1085 by a 15-11 vote on November 19, 2013. Many major amendments were approved, but none addressed the underlying issues of improving charter school accountability and increasing access for all students that we raised in our initial analysis of SB 1085.

    There are several changes to the bill that raise new concerns for ELC.

    Download PDF

  • The Education Law Center testified on Nov. 15, 2013 asking the Pennsylvania Department of Education to utilize its clear legal authority and deny all six cyber charter applications currently under review.

    Download PDF

  • Charter school reform is needed in the Commonwealth and significant legislative effort has gone into two similar bills: HB 618 and SB 1085. The most recent bill to receive attention in the General Assembly is SB 1085.

    The Education Law Center supports some of the accountability provisions of SB 1085. However, through the lens of ELC’s charter reform principles and through the lens of the state constitutional mandate to maintain and support a thorough and efficient system of public education, ELC strongly opposes many other provisions of the bill.

    Download PDF

  • The graphs in this analysis were created by the Education Law Center using publicly reported data on public school enrollment demographics. We focused on Pennsylvania’s most heavily-chartered communities — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chester-Upland, York City, and Erie City — and on students receiving special education services.

    The data demonstrates that, while a number of individual charter schools equitably serve all students, the charter school sector taken as a whole generally underserves these vulnerable student populations. The result is that, with some notable exceptions, these students are often more heavily concentrated in the authorizing school district of residence.

     

    Download PDF

  • Faced with a budget shortfall of more than $700 million, the School District of Philadelphia laid off 47 nurses effective December 31, 2011. Subsequent layoffs and the retirement of 25 additional nurses resulted in a net loss of more than 100 school nurses in the 2011-2012 school year.

    This 2013 report examines the impact of those losses on student health, safety, and learning.

    Download PDF

  • Pennsylvania is a national outlier when it comes to following basic budgeting principles — accuracy, fairness, and transparency — that most states use when it comes to public school funding, according to a 2013 report from the Education Law Center.

    The statewide, non-profit organization examined how each of the 50 states calculates and distributes education dollars. The report shows that Pennsylvania is in the minority when it comes to basic budgeting practices used by most states.

    Download PDF

  • ELC’s November 2012 testimony to the Pennsylvania Department of Education on eight cyber charter school applications.

    An excerpt: “The academic performance of the existing cyber charter schools raises serious questions about the ability of such programs to enable students to meet Pennsylvania’s academic standards and this performance should give the Department great pause before authorizing any additional cyber charters.”

    Download PDF

  • The Law Center believes that important reforms are needed for Pennsylvania’s system of charter schools. However, it is important to note that the legislative process for charter school reform has headed down the wrong path.

    (The following analysis highlights proposed changes to the law. These changes were not adopted in 2012 or 2013, but many of them are contained in current charter law proposals before the legislature.)

    Download PDF

  • According to the research findings, students who have access to a quality school library program have an academic advantage over students who did not have such access. This 2012 report, produced by the Education Law Center and the Pennsylvania Association of School Librarians, shows these academic differences are not explained away by the socio-economic, racial/ethnic, or disability status of the students. In fact, the research shows that all students with access to a full-time, certified librarians have higher PSSA Reading and Writing scores than students without that access.

    Download PDF

  • Charter schools are public schools and must follow laws that protect the rights of public school students. Ensuring that charter schools, as well as traditional public schools, provide quality education to all students is an important part of ELC’s mission.

    The following principles, published in 2012, are an outgrowth of ELC’s work with and on behalf of thousands of families throughout Pennsylvania.

    Download PDF

  • Governor Corbett proposed state funding for public schools in 2012-13 that includes cuts for most school districts.  These cuts reflect the loss of $100 million in state funding for Accountability Block Grants, which support kindergarten programs and tutoring for struggling students, as well as 5 percent reductions in Pre-K Counts and Head Start.

    Download PDF

  • The 2007 report, commissioned by the General Assembly, provides data on the costs for all students in Pennsylvania public schools – no matter where they live – to receive a quality education, allowing them to meet state standards for academic achievement.

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  • Strong public schools are important for creating a successful future for both individuals and whole communities. Formula proposals or state budgets affecting education funding should be evaluated based on the following ten criteria. Any proposal or budget that fails to meet these criteria will not serve the interests of all students, especially disadvantaged students, and should not be adopted.

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  • There are many voices and various ideas, but crucial leadership and commitment are sorely lacking on the key issues facing the future of the 3,300 public schools that serve 1.8 million children in the Commonwealth. And the ideas for reform getting the most attention often ignore the basic changes needed to truly improve teaching and learning at the classroom level, especially for struggling students and schools.

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  • The items included in the 2011-12 school code bill do not address the needs of disadvantaged students and their families. For example, some of the items relate to teacher quality but do not ensure either a more equitable distribution of excellent teachers or parent involvement in this issue.

    Download PDF

  • ELC presents key facts analysis about Pennsylvania’s final Education Budget for the 2011-12 school year. This budget adopted by the General Assembly on June 30, 2011 cut state funding for PreK-12 education by $961 million.

    Download PDF

  • Pennsylvania Department of Education data on the 2011-12 state education budget.

    Download EXLS

  • Using Pennsylvania Department of Education data, ELC examined the distribution of the 2011-12 state education budget cuts for Southeastern Pennsylvania school districts.

    Download PDF

  • Investing in public eduation initiatives, from quality pre-kindergarten programs to lowering class size in elementary schools, pays big dividends for the state’s economic and social welfare, according to a report from Penn State University Professor Dana Mitra.

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  • The 2009 report, Costing Out the Resources Needed to Meet Pennsylvania’s Education Goals for Students with Disabilities, identifies and evaluates Special Education solutions based on Pennsylvania’s 2007 Education Cost Study and examines why it is critically important for the state to implement a funding system for students with disabilities.

    Download PDF

  • Starting in January 2007, the Education Law Center and Critical Exposure worked with high school students throughout Pennsylvania to photograph and document what they thought was important for the public to know about their education.

    Download PDF

Equal Access

Analysis & Research

  • On August 31, 2017, ELC submitted comments in response to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s request for input to its proposed Consolidated State Plan (“State Plan” or “Plan”) pursuant to Every Student Succeeds Act (“ESSA”), the nation’s major education law.  Highlighting Pennsylvania’s historic opportunity to create a new path to advance educational equity and close the achievement gap for at-risk students, ELC’s comments underscore the need for rigorous, uniform goals and standards applicable to all students, the development of more detailed measures and strategies to determine when and how to intervene to support low-performing schools, the need to address school climate issues and further refine chronic absenteeism as a metric, the need for greater state oversight to implement specific provisions of ESSA, and advance the progress of educationally at-risk students, particularly students in foster care, those experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities, English Learners (“ELs”), and youth in and exiting the juvenile justice system.

    Summany here

    Full text of ELC’s Comments here.

    Download PDF

  • On July 6, 2017, ELC Staff Attorney Maura McInerney provided testimony to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission opposing a proposed special education plan that would have substantially increased the provision of special education services in segregated settings.  After substantial opposition from advocates for students with disabilities, the Commission adopted a scaled-down version of its plan.

    Download PDF

  • ELC co-signed this letter to Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera in response to the denial of students’ right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the School District of Philadelphia in June, 2017.

    Download PDF

  • This letter, which was sent to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on June 13, was written on behalf of the Philadelphia Coalition for Special Education Advocates and other organizations to oppose “Resolution IU7: Alternative Special Education Program for students with disabilities in grades K through 12” in the Philadelphia School District.

    Download PDF

  • Despite prohibiting the suspension of Kindergarten students, the School District of Philadelphia continues to suspend students in first through fifth grades at alarming rates. (more…)

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  • ELC wrote this letter to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission in reference to SRC Resolution B-4 on alternative education programs in April 2017, urging the Commission to postpone consideration of the Camelot contract to allow additional time for review and discussion and to raise significant concerns about the multi-year charter school renewals scheduled for a vote.

    Download PDF

  • A responsible charter school law must empower local governing bodies to strategically control charter growth as a tool to increase quality options and improve our system of public education for all communities. The charter school law should not force blind expansion on already burdened systems and compel the loss of neighborhood schools options. The Education Law Center wrote this letter to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in April 2017 urging them to oppose HB 97, the purported charter reform legislation.

    Please also view our fact sheet on HB 97.

    Download PDF

  • Education Law Center Staff Attorney Kristina Moon presented testimony on March 16, 2017 to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on how the city’s schools can better meet the needs of students learning English, parents with limited English proficiency, and immigrant families.

    Download PDF

  • This testimony was presented in January, 2017 at a town hall meeting hosted by Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym and the School District of Philadelphia. It raises a number of issues related to the educational needs of immigrant students, students learning English, and their families.

    Download PDF

  • Published in February 2017, this analysis explains how Pennsylvania’s charter schools serve disproportionately fewer of the state’s vulnerable students than traditional public schools, too often segregating students by type of disability. Federal and state laws are clear that charter schools must provide quality public options for all pupils. With respect to students eligible for special education under Pennsylvania law and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the data demonstrates that, even where charter schools are serving proportionate numbers of students with disabilities in line with their share of the overall student population, the charter sector by and large does not educate students with disabilities who require higher cost aids and services—e.g. students with intellectual disabilities, serious emotional disturbance, and multiple disabilities. Instead, the charter sector serves students with disabilities who require lower cost aids and services, such as speech and language impairment and specific learning disabilities.

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  • ELC submitted these comments to the U.S. Department of Education in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register on May 31, 2016 regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Through these comments, we highlight the critical need for greater accountability of schools serving educationally at risk students, especially students experiencing homelessness, students in foster care, and youth involved in and reentering from the juvenile justice system.

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  • In May 2016, ELC Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman testified at a Pittsburgh Public School Board hearing about the need to co-construct policies and practices with students and parents that decrease the use of exclusionary discipline and increase educational outcomes and opportunities for all students. ELC also urged the board to adopt a proposed Nondiscrimination Policy for Transgender Students and elevate the Program for Students with Exceptionalities to a cabinet level position to reflect the District’s commitment to inclusion for students with disabilities.

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  • The lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan has shined a light on a persistent, yet often invisible, problem in Pennsylvania. While many think of lead as an issue of the past, it is not. For many of Pennsylvania’s children, lead exposure continues to be a silent epidemic that plagues their communities and undermines their ability to learn. This brief, “Lead and Its Impact on Learning: What Schools, Parents & Policymakers Need to Know and Do,” written by Maura McInerney, Esq. and Alissa S. Werzen, M.D., was published February 11, 2016.

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  • In January 2016, ELC submitted comments in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s request for recommendations prior to publishing proposed regulations to implement programs under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

    Download PDF

  • In October 2015, the Education Law Center submitted comments to the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) on their draft of a proposed policy announcement: “Reduction of Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania (15-#1)” [.doc]. The draft announcement was based, in part, on the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education policy guidance on the issue, released in December 2014: Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Settings.

    ELC’s comments, available below, were informed by our expertise advocating for the rights of the most vulnerable children birth through age twenty one and our extensive experience listening to the hundreds of children and families we have served each year for the past four decades. These public comments are part of ELC’s larger body of work focused on reducing exclusionary discipline that is disproportionately used on vulnerable populations and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline that pushes at-risk youth into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

    Download PDF

  • In Unlocking the Door to Learning: Trauma-Informed Classrooms & Transformational Schools, ELC Senior Staff Attorney Maura McInerney, Esq. and Amy McKlindon, M.S.W. discuss the impact of trauma on learning and what schools and educators can do to create a trauma-informed learning environment.

    Download PDF

  • ELC Staff Attorney David Lapp’s recommendations on charter school legislation being considered by Pennsylvania State Legislature in June, 2015. Discussion includes a comparison of HB 530, PN 569 and SB 856, PN 968.

    Download PDF

  • Education Law Center Staff Attorney David Lapp’s testimony to the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission on November 18, 2014, entitled “Time for a Rational Fix to the Special Education Tuition in Pennsylvania Charter Schools.”

    Download PDF

  • Senior Staff Attorney Maura McInerney provided testimony to the Pennsylvania Senate’s Education Committee at their June 9th hearing on truancy. She discussed how punitive responses to truancy can be ineffectual and counterproductive and the importance of school-level interventions to improve attendance.

    Download PDF

  • ELC Attorney Leigh Loman provided this testimony to the National Council on Disability (NCD) on May 4-5 at their national meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. NCD is an independent federal agency responsible for advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on issues affecting the lives of people with disabilities.

    Download PDF

  • A summary of the Education Law Center’s 2014 recommendations to improve educational outcomes for English Language Learners (ELL).

    Download PDF

  • On Feb. 2, 2015, the Education Law Center submitted comments on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015 Discussion Draft.

    The reauthorization of the ESEA offers an opportunity to update our nation’s primary federal education law to build upon the lessons learned since the last reauthorization. The Education Law Center urges Congress to reauthorize the ESEA in 2015 and address a number of priorities, including: Maintain a strong federal role in promoting equity and accountability; encourage states to fund schools equitably; protect Title I dollars for the poorest schools and districts; and act to end school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline.

    Read ELC’s full comments.

    Download PDF

  • Education Law Center Attorney David Lapp’s December 11, 2014 testimony to the School District of Philadelphia examines the legislative intent of Pennsylvania’s charter school law and how the District should view the latest round of charter school applications.

    “There is tremendous promise in the theory of independently-operated public schools that are accountable for equitably serving all kinds of students, achieve superior results, and ultimately increase quality educational options in the larger system of public education. Unfortunately, we do not have such a system in Philadelphia.

    Until we do, the district is fully within its legal right to restrict charter school growth. Indeed, in order to comply with the legislative intent of the charter school law and with our state constitutional mandate for a “thorough and efficient system of public education,” the district is legally compelled to restrict charter growth.”

    Download PDF

  • The Education Law Center’s Maura McInerney delivered testimony on Oct. 6, 2014 to the Pennsylvania House Children and Youth Committee highlighting research on the importance of school stability.

    “Research shows that one of the most significant barriers to school success is school mobility. It is estimated that school age children in foster care commonly experience nearly three living arrangement changes during their first foster care stay. These children frequently change schools – on average three times in two years, with over a third of young adults in foster care reporting having five or more school changes,” said McInerney. “Children who change schools lose critical academic progress with every school move, which can be devastating to a child’s education,” she said.

    Download the complete testimony.

    Download PDF

  • The study, conducted by the PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (PolicyLab), was commissioned through a collaboration among the Mayor’s Office of Education, School District of Philadelphia (SDP), School Reform Commission, Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) and Philadelphia Youth Network.

    The study examines the educational outcomes of students in the 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 12th grades attending public schools in Philadelphia during the 2011-12 school year, a cohort of over 68,000 students. Findings revealed that students with a history of child welfare or juvenile justice involvement had substantially lower PSSA scores and promotion rates; higher rates of special education eligibility and absenteeism; accumulated fewer credits and disproportionately attended district-run comprehensive neighborhood schools and alternative schools compared to their never-involved peers.

    Download PDF

  • ELC’s policy recommendations based on the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) PolicyLab’s June 2014 report on Philadelphia school children involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice system.

    These are recommendations for effective systemic reform, including legislative change, as well as improved practices to support the educational success of these children and youth.

     

    Download PDF

  • This Pennsylvania Department of Education report offers 13 recommendations to build upon existing efforts and advance change within the state education system to meet the educational needs of Pennsylvania’s children experiencing homelessness.

    The findings and recommendations contained in this report were presented to the Governor, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the chairman and minority chairman of the Education Committee of the Senate and the chairman and minority chairman of the Education Committee of the House of Representatives.

     

    Download PDF

  • Education Law Center Attorney David Lapp’s March 7, 2014 testimony at the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s hearing highlights significant demographic disparities when comparing brick-and-mortar charter schools as a whole in Philadelphia to the School District of Philadelphia schools.

    (more…)

    Download PDF

  • The Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 1085 by a 15-11 vote on November 19, 2013. Many major amendments were approved, but none addressed the underlying issues of improving charter school accountability and increasing access for all students that we raised in our initial analysis of SB 1085.

    There are several changes to the bill that raise new concerns for ELC.

    Download PDF

  • The Education Law Center testified on Nov. 15, 2013 asking the Pennsylvania Department of Education to utilize its clear legal authority and deny all six cyber charter applications currently under review.

    Download PDF

  • Charter school reform is needed in the Commonwealth and significant legislative effort has gone into two similar bills: HB 618 and SB 1085. The most recent bill to receive attention in the General Assembly is SB 1085.

    The Education Law Center supports some of the accountability provisions of SB 1085. However, through the lens of ELC’s charter reform principles and through the lens of the state constitutional mandate to maintain and support a thorough and efficient system of public education, ELC strongly opposes many other provisions of the bill.

    Download PDF

  • The graphs in this analysis were created by the Education Law Center using publicly reported data on public school enrollment demographics. We focused on Pennsylvania’s most heavily-chartered communities — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chester-Upland, York City, and Erie City — and on students receiving special education services.

    The data demonstrates that, while a number of individual charter schools equitably serve all students, the charter school sector taken as a whole generally underserves these vulnerable student populations. The result is that, with some notable exceptions, these students are often more heavily concentrated in the authorizing school district of residence.

     

    Download PDF

  • ELC’s November 2012 testimony to the Pennsylvania Department of Education on eight cyber charter school applications.

    An excerpt: “The academic performance of the existing cyber charter schools raises serious questions about the ability of such programs to enable students to meet Pennsylvania’s academic standards and this performance should give the Department great pause before authorizing any additional cyber charters.”

    Download PDF

  • The Law Center believes that important reforms are needed for Pennsylvania’s system of charter schools. However, it is important to note that the legislative process for charter school reform has headed down the wrong path.

    (The following analysis highlights proposed changes to the law. These changes were not adopted in 2012 or 2013, but many of them are contained in current charter law proposals before the legislature.)

    Download PDF

  • According to the research findings, students who have access to a quality school library program have an academic advantage over students who did not have such access. This 2012 report, produced by the Education Law Center and the Pennsylvania Association of School Librarians, shows these academic differences are not explained away by the socio-economic, racial/ethnic, or disability status of the students. In fact, the research shows that all students with access to a full-time, certified librarians have higher PSSA Reading and Writing scores than students without that access.

    Download PDF

  • Charter schools are public schools and must follow laws that protect the rights of public school students. Ensuring that charter schools, as well as traditional public schools, provide quality education to all students is an important part of ELC’s mission.

    The following principles, published in 2012, are an outgrowth of ELC’s work with and on behalf of thousands of families throughout Pennsylvania.

    Download PDF

  • In 2009, Stoneleigh Foundation Junior Fellow Arley Styer joined with the Education Law Center to explore the educational experiences of children placed in Pennsylvania group homes and residential treatment facilities. These children, many of whom tend to suffer from behavior disorders, often encounter educational barriers such as lack of needed special education services or too few hours of schooling while in placement.

    Download PDF

  • In this March 2010 report, ELC proposes legal and policy changes that will ensure that alternative programs are adequately supported and monitored; that their services are consistently comparable to those offered to other Pennsylvania students; that students are placed in these programs only when their needs justify the assignment; that the programs operate in a manner that is consistent with applicable federal and state laws; and that, in a number of other respects, programs meet the high standards that the state has set for all of Pennsylvania’s public education programs – and justify the taxpayers’ investment of funds.

     

    Download PDF

School to Prison Pipeline

Analysis & Research

  • Despite prohibiting the suspension of Kindergarten students, the School District of Philadelphia continues to suspend students in first through fifth grades at alarming rates. (more…)

    Download PDF

  • ELC wrote this letter to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission in reference to SRC Resolution B-4 on alternative education programs in April 2017, urging the Commission to postpone consideration of the Camelot contract to allow additional time for review and discussion and to raise significant concerns about the multi-year charter school renewals scheduled for a vote.

    Download PDF

  • A responsible charter school law must empower local governing bodies to strategically control charter growth as a tool to increase quality options and improve our system of public education for all communities. The charter school law should not force blind expansion on already burdened systems and compel the loss of neighborhood schools options. The Education Law Center wrote this letter to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in April 2017 urging them to oppose HB 97, the purported charter reform legislation.

    Please also view our fact sheet on HB 97.

    Download PDF

  • Stoneleigh Foundation Emerging Leader Fellow Ashley Sawyer was invited to speak to the Philadelphia City Council’s newly formed Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform  on May 23, 2016.  The committee is collaborating in part to meet the goals of a new $3.5 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to address the city’s high jail population and the racial bias in the city’s justice system.  Ashley presented testimony on the need to address the School to Prison Pipeline and the poor educational opportunities available to incarcerated youth.

    Download PDF

  • In October 2015, the Education Law Center submitted comments to the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) on their draft of a proposed policy announcement: “Reduction of Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania (15-#1)” [.doc]. The draft announcement was based, in part, on the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education policy guidance on the issue, released in December 2014: Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Settings.

    ELC’s comments, available below, were informed by our expertise advocating for the rights of the most vulnerable children birth through age twenty one and our extensive experience listening to the hundreds of children and families we have served each year for the past four decades. These public comments are part of ELC’s larger body of work focused on reducing exclusionary discipline that is disproportionately used on vulnerable populations and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline that pushes at-risk youth into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

    Download PDF

  • In Unlocking the Door to Learning: Trauma-Informed Classrooms & Transformational Schools, ELC Senior Staff Attorney Maura McInerney, Esq. and Amy McKlindon, M.S.W. discuss the impact of trauma on learning and what schools and educators can do to create a trauma-informed learning environment.

    Download PDF

  • ELC Staff Attorney David Lapp’s recommendations on charter school legislation being considered by Pennsylvania State Legislature in June, 2015. Discussion includes a comparison of HB 530, PN 569 and SB 856, PN 968.

    Download PDF

  • Senior Staff Attorney Maura McInerney provided testimony to the Pennsylvania Senate’s Education Committee at their June 9th hearing on truancy. She discussed how punitive responses to truancy can be ineffectual and counterproductive and the importance of school-level interventions to improve attendance.

    Download PDF

  • On Feb. 2, 2015, the Education Law Center submitted comments on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015 Discussion Draft.

    The reauthorization of the ESEA offers an opportunity to update our nation’s primary federal education law to build upon the lessons learned since the last reauthorization. The Education Law Center urges Congress to reauthorize the ESEA in 2015 and address a number of priorities, including: Maintain a strong federal role in promoting equity and accountability; encourage states to fund schools equitably; protect Title I dollars for the poorest schools and districts; and act to end school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline.

    Read ELC’s full comments.

    Download PDF

  • The study, conducted by the PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (PolicyLab), was commissioned through a collaboration among the Mayor’s Office of Education, School District of Philadelphia (SDP), School Reform Commission, Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) and Philadelphia Youth Network.

    The study examines the educational outcomes of students in the 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 12th grades attending public schools in Philadelphia during the 2011-12 school year, a cohort of over 68,000 students. Findings revealed that students with a history of child welfare or juvenile justice involvement had substantially lower PSSA scores and promotion rates; higher rates of special education eligibility and absenteeism; accumulated fewer credits and disproportionately attended district-run comprehensive neighborhood schools and alternative schools compared to their never-involved peers.

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  • ELC’s policy recommendations based on the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) PolicyLab’s June 2014 report on Philadelphia school children involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice system.

    These are recommendations for effective systemic reform, including legislative change, as well as improved practices to support the educational success of these children and youth.

     

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  • This 2010 ELC research brief provides a detailed examination of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (PBS), a research-based, highly effective, approach to creating, teaching, and reinforcing students’ social, emotional, and academic learning skills that improves and sustains academic achievement and mental and emotional wellbeing of all students.

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  • In the nine years since Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), startling growth has occurred in what is often described as the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” – the use of educational policies and practices that have the effect of pushing students, especially students of color and students with disabilities, out of schools and toward the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

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  • In this March 2010 report, ELC proposes legal and policy changes that will ensure that alternative programs are adequately supported and monitored; that their services are consistently comparable to those offered to other Pennsylvania students; that students are placed in these programs only when their needs justify the assignment; that the programs operate in a manner that is consistent with applicable federal and state laws; and that, in a number of other respects, programs meet the high standards that the state has set for all of Pennsylvania’s public education programs – and justify the taxpayers’ investment of funds.

     

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