Battle over fairness of state education funding heads to Supreme Court
May 20, 2015 – Matt Miller, The Patriot News / PennLive – A coalition of parents, school districts and public interest groups filed an appeal Wednesday with Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court challenging the Commonwealth Court’s dismissal of its lawsuit over state education funding.
Commonwealth Court dismissed the suit against the state Education Department last month after concluding that funding for public education is a matter for the Legislature, not the courts.
The coalition is seeking a revamp of Pennsylvania’s education funding system, claiming the Legislature is violating the state constitution by financing public schools through an inequitable formula. The current system creates an imbalance of financing between poor and wealthy districts and jeopardizes the civil rights of disadvantaged students, the alliance contends.
Members of the coalition include the school districts of Lancaster, William Penn, Panther Valley, Greater Johnstown Area and Shenandoah Valley, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools and the state conference of the NAACP.
“Today, many students across the state are finishing yet another school year without the basic resources they need to meet rigorous state-imposed standards,” said Maura McInerney of the Education Law Center, which is representing the coalition along with the Public Interest Law Center.
The aim of the suit, she said, is to “ensure that the legislature complies with its constitutional duty to provide a thorough and efficient system of public education. Pennsylvania’s public school students are entitled to their day in court.”