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State to calculate price tag for quality public schooling

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Advocates for equitable school funding are applauding a decision by the Pennsylvania legislature to fund and conduct a statewide “costing-out study,” measuring the costs to school systems of providing all children with a quality public education.

“For too many years, the education budget in Pennsylvania has been based on political considerations and what we’re willing to spend in a given year,” commented Janis Risch of the education organizing group Good Schools Pennsylvania. She explained that the study’s goal “is to determine what does it actually cost to get students to the standards.” The state has standards by grade for what students should know and be able to do.

Good Schools PA teamed with the Education Law Center and the Education Policy and Leadership Center in pushing for the study as part of an ongoing campaign to reform the state’s preK-12 school finance system. Pennsylvania has regularly been rated as having one of the most unfair school finance systems in the country.

The costing-out study should be completed by the state Board of Education next year. Risch said her group is encouraging Pennsylvanians to “monitor the study, participate in it where possible, amplify it, and create the expectation that something will be done with it.” They can be reached at info@goodschoolspa.org or 215-332-2700.