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Rethink school funding

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

“Leave no child behind” should mean guaranteeing every student access to small classes taught by highly skilled educators, to a skilled nurse and counselor, and to top-notch libraries, labs, and technology. But a guarantee of such resources has not been part of NCLB. So the opportunity for an enriching educational experience, found in many suburban public schools in this region, is rarely available to students in Philadelphia and hundreds of other less affluent districts around the state.

This could finally change, if state legislators and Gov. Rendell heed the findings of the recently released “costing-out” study assessing how much more Pennsylvania would need to spend to provide adequate education for all. The study concluded that the state’s poorest school districts are the most underfunded. Philadelphia would get $1 billion extra if the study’s recommendations were adopted.

The price tag for the state to bring all its districts up to adequacy is $4.8 billion. Some state legislators say we can’t afford to do it. But living with the social costs of an inadequate school system, we know that we can’t afford not to do it. Children across the state have been subjected to shamefully under-resourced schools for far too long. It’s time for action from our state officials: Pennsylvania needs a fair school funding system.

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