Opinion: Fair school funding means fair funding for every Pa. student. Not just a few

PA Capital Star by Laura Johnson, February 6, 2022

Pa. lawmakers wouldn’t settle for less than the best for their kids. Why should we?

Should every student in the Commonwealth have the educational resources they need to unlock their full potential? I believe that if I posed that question to each member of the General Assembly, virtually everyone would say “Of course!” Unfortunately, the obvious answer to that question seems to have little bearing on how the Legislature is actually funding education.

You see, right after answering “of course students should have an education that unlocks their full potential,” many lawmakers will follow up with some excuse for why ensuring student access to educational resources is not their responsibility. They may argue that school choice and privatization are where we should be focused, ignoring that these approaches have consistently failed to remedy, and often harm, the educational landscape for under-resourced students.

Others may argue that even if they did fully and fairly fund all students, it probably won’t make a difference in what students can achieve due to outside circumstances, and ask why they should ‘waste’ those resources. Or some, like the counsel for the legislative respondents in the ongoing school funding court case, might imply that students in under-funded districts are somehow better suited for low-wage jobs anyway, and therefore don’t need the educational resources available in wealthier districts.

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Director note: Laura Johnson is a member of the school board in the Pottstown School District, and the co-founder of Pennsylvanians for Fair Funding. She is also the 2021 Inductee into the Allwein Society, PSBA’s recognition program honoring school directors who are outstanding leaders and advocates on behalf of public schools and students.