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The Problem

Pennsylvania’s school funding system is broken. It is unfair and inadequate.

  • Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country, with the wealthiest school districts spending 33% more on each student than the poorest districts.
  • Most Pennsylvania’s public schools are inadequately funded. Pennsylvania ranks 47th in state share for education. As a result, four of every five Pennsylvania school districts do not spend an amount adequate to provide all students the resources needed to have a fair chance to succeed.

That means lost opportunities for students to participate in valuable science, technology, and math programs; receive enough personal attention from their teachers due to growing class sizes; get extra help when they need it; have access to up-to-date books and technology; or participate in vocational training and extracurricular activities.

Pennsylvania is also falling short in supporting students with cognitive or physical disabilities. A 2009 study showed that there was a $380 million funding gap for special education across the Commonwealth. The gap has grown since. Pennsylvania’s contribution for special education in recent years has not kept up with the costs: the state’s share of special education funding has dropped from 36% to less than 25% in the last 10 years. Pennsylvania must begin closing this funding gap.

With Pennsylvania’s workforce requiring higher skill levels to compete and employers concerned about finding qualified workers, it is more essential than ever that the career and technical education (CTE) system is available to all interested students. Students must have access to a varied array of programs in professions that are in demand – from agriculture to business; from the trades to technology; and from health occupations to manufacturing.

But again, state funding has not kept up with the need. The state subsidy equates to only about eight percent of CTE costs after years of flat funding. Pennsylvania must support career and technical centers and the valuable education and training they provide.

What Must Be Done

The state must fund public education equitably and adequately so that all Pennsylvania students, regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, family income or the community where they live, can attend public schools that will ensure they graduate with the 21st-century skills necessary for success in college or a career.

To achieve the campaign’s goal that Basic Education Funding meets the purpose and intent of the current funding formula, the state must, including but not limited to:

  • Pay its fair share of public education costs by:
    • Increasing Basic Education Funding by at least $3 billion through the state’s fair funding formula
    • Ensuring sufficient resources for special education and career and technical education
    • Delivering targeted property tax relief to those who need it
  • Generate the necessary revenues through sustainable, recurring funding sources

 Basic Education

So that all children, no matter where they live, have the resources they need to succeed, the Campaign supports an increase of at least $3 billion in annual basic education funding, to be allocated through the state’s fair funding formula and phased in over the next several years.

Special Education

So that districts can meet the educational needs of students with disabilities, the state must increase the state share of special education funding back to approximately 35 percent over the next five years by increasing the state share of total special education expenses by at least 2 percent more each fiscal year.

Career and Technical Education

So that all interested students receive quality career and technical education that prepare them for today’s workforce, the state must ensure that:

  • Funding for CTE is adequate and equitably distributed so that every student who chooses to pursue CTE can participate and has access to the coursework and learning opportunities that allow them to progress towards an industry-based credential in their chosen career.
  • No school district is faced with the decision to cap the number of students who can participate in career and technical education in a district-based or area career technical education center due to funding limits.