This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Lawyers for plaintiffs in a case seeking to overturn Pennsylvania’s system of funding schools as unconstitutional filed a brief with state Supreme Court on Friday.
The case, brought by several school districts, parents, and groups, was dismissed in April by Commonwealth Court judges, who ruled that school funding — how much money is spent on education and how it is distributed — is a matter for the state’s legislative and executive branches to decide.
An appeal for the case to be heard in the state’s highest court was filed in May by the Public Interest Law Center and Education Law Center, who are representing the plaintiffs.
The brief argues that Pennsylvania’s school funding system is broken, making the availability of high-quality public education a "function of community wealth rather than a constitutional guarantee.”
Pennsylvania’s constitution ensures a "thorough and efficient system of public education" for all students.
"Students in poor school districts are denied these rights by an irrational, unpredictable school finance scheme that is overly reliant on local property taxes and deprives students of the basic resources they need to meet state academic standards,” said Maura McInerney, an attorney at the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania.
“The legislature claims that as long as it keeps school doors open and lights on, it has met its constitutional obligation and that the courts have no role to play in interpreting the constitution. It is now up to the Supreme Court to address this unconscionable claim. Our state constitution is clear: The court cannot close its doors to the children of Pennsylvania.”