State funding for public schools is uneven and inequitable, but this bill isn’t the answer [opinion]


A bipartisan proposal in the state House would make a significant change in the way the state allocates funding to Pennsylvania schools, LNP staff writer Alex Geli reported Friday. House Bill 2501, authored by state Rep. Christopher Rabb, a Democrat from Philadelphia, would require all basic education funding allocated by the state government to flow through the fair funding formula approved in 2016. As Geli noted, “Since the 2015-16 school year, only increases in basic education funding have been appropriated through the formula, which takes into account factors such as enrollment, poverty and the number of English language learners when funding schools.” State Rep. Mike Sturla, a Lancaster Democrat, is co-sponsoring Rabb’s bill…

The state share of education funding stood at 55 percent in 1974. In 2016-17, the latest year for which figures are available, it was less than 37 percent.

To make up the difference, school districts have raised property taxes year after year, and thus the burden has been shifted to local folks.

It’s possible to acknowledge the unfairness of this, while also acknowledging the injustice of inequitable school funding. While also appreciating the importance of quality public education not just to schoolchildren, but to anyone who enjoys the benefits of a fully functioning society and economy.

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