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School Funding Update

Philadelphia Student Union has organized around the issue of school funding for over a decade, and this year we had a major victory. On July4th—after several months of lobbying, public actions, writing editorials and holding teach-ins about the unequal state of education funding in PA—schools across the state received a historic increase in basic education funding of about $275 million. For Philadelphia schools, we received $50 million in new money.

One of the most significant aspects of this funding increase is that the money will be distributed according to need, based on a formula that takes into account factors such as students living in poverty and English language learners.

This victory was made possible only through the organizing efforts of students,parents, teachers, and other education advocates and organizers, including a huge effort from Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Student Union.

One of the actions we organized took place on the steps of the art museum in which we created a giant ‘human bar graph’ to illustrate differences in school funding across different school districts, including Philadelphia,Lower Merion and Upper Darby. In addition to demonstrations, we also won the new funding formula by testifying in front of the State Education Committee and the Philadelphia City Council and speaking in Harrisburg to an audience of state legislators and senators. We also organized and coordinated a number of legislative visit to our local legislators with students, parents and teachers, and held teach-ins for parents and community members on the issue of state funding.

The struggle for adequate funding isn’t over, but this is a huge step. Now thatwe have the new money, we will continue to monitor the district, and make surethat it is spent on reforms that work, such as smaller class sizes, morequalified teachers, more resources, supports for new teachers and morecounselors.

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