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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Press Release - The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

National Civil Rights and Education Advocates Applaud Pennsylvania School Funding Lawsuit

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Simpson, 202.466.2061, simpson@civilrights.org
November 10, 2014

Today, Pennsylvania students, parents, and education advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the current funding of the Commonwealth’s public schools as grossly inadequate, depriving students of their right to a “thorough and efficient” education guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution. The lawsuit comes in the wake of devastating cuts to teachers, support staff and programs in Philadelphia and a continuing lack of essential resources in Reading, York, and other high-poverty rural and urban communities across the state.

A coalition of national civil rights and education advocates has been vocally critical of the Commonwealth’s failure to enact a fair school funding formula and Governor Tom Corbett’s massive cuts in state education aid, which have had a disproportionate impact on education opportunities for Pennsylvania’s poor students and students of color.

The inadequate funding of public education in Pennsylvania is representative of a national problem affecting millions of vulnerable school children across the country, triggering school funding lawsuits in many states, including Kansas, Texas, Washington, Connecticut, New Mexico, Florida, New York, Colorado, and New Jersey.

The Education Law Center and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have been urging governors and legislatures across the country to fix their broken systems of public school finance by providing greater fairness and equity, especially for the growing populations of poor and at-risk students in need of additional education supports.

Below are responses to today’s lawsuit from the heads of the Education Law Center and The Leadership Conference:

David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center: “Pennsylvania’s elected leaders, by consistently and dramatically underfunding public education, have failed in their constitutional obligation to give every student the opportunity for academic success. The students have rightfully turned to the courts as a last resort. We urge state officials not to wait but to act now by putting in place a funding formula that delivers adequate resources to all children.”

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

“Pennsylvania is not alone in denying adequate funding for its students, especially those in high poverty school districts. But this case shows that Pennsylvania is one of the worst offenders in the nation. The disparity in education resources has created an educational caste system that the Commonwealth must eliminate. We will continue to take action to vindicate the state constitutional rights of all students to an education that prepares them for citizenship and the workforce. We also call on the U.S. Department of Education to investigate Pennsylvania for the glaring inequity in essential education resources in schools serving poor and minority school children and to take decisive corrective action on the findings.”

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