In a landmark decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that a challenge to the state’s school funding system can proceed. The decision is William Penn School District, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education, et al., No. 46 MAP 2015 (Pa. 2017). The plaintiffs in the case allege that the school funding system violates the Pennsylvania Constitution because the system fails to ensure that all school districts have the resources necessary to provide their students an adequate education. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from the Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center. Both are nonprofits that are committed to education equity. (The Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center fight for school funding equity, as well as for the rights of students with disabilities.)
A lower court dismissed the case, but the Supreme Court reinstated it in an 86-page opinion. Several news outlets have covered the Court’s decision:
- Charles J. Klitsch authored an excellent article for Upon Further Review. Mr. Klitsch not only explains the Court’s legal analysis but also summarizes the historical backdrop for the case.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article discussing various Pennsylvania politicians’ responses to the decision.
- Education Week provided a high-level summary of the decision on its blog.
Although this case is far from over, it could lead to important changes in Pennsylvania’s school funding system, changes that could directly impact your child’s education. The next step in the case is a hearing before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s school funding system, check out the state’s Basic Education Funding Report and the Pew Center report A School Funding Formula for Philadelphia. And if you’re passionate about this issue, consider contacting your state legislatures about it or offering to volunteer with an organization like the Education Law Center or the Public Interest Law Center.