News

March 7, 2016

Statewide Call to Action on Education Funding

As education appropriation hearings are underway, join others across Pennsylvania and take 5-10 minutes on Tuesday, March 8, to call state legislators to tell them that we need them to put Pennsylvania’s children first by investing in public education. Find your lawmakers here.

Introduce yourself as a constituent and a member of ___________ congregation in.  As Lutherans, we believe that all are created in the image of God for lives of dignity and equal worth and should be treated accordingly.  This belief stands behind our strong support for our society’s expectation that all young people have equitable access to high-quality schools.

Educating our future is about hope.  It must be a shared hope. Share briefly why education is important to you as a person of faith.

ASK YOUR LAWMAKERS TO:
Provide a strong foundation for the sustainable, predictable and long-term investment that is needed in our public schools
by adopting the fair funding formula recommended by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC), and making a significant new investment of $600 million over this budget year and the next.

The following talking points may be helpful. 

  • Students across Pennsylvania have been missing out on educational opportunities since well before the state budget impasse began.
  • In the last six years academic and extracurricular programs have been lost, classroom sizes have ballooned, school libraries have shuttered, and the number of teachers and support staff have been greatly reduced.
  • That is because:
    • Pennsylvania has the largest funding gap between wealthy and poor schools of any other state in the country.
    • State funding in recent years has not kept pace with necessary school costs.
    • Schools are excessively dependent on local wealth for funding. In fact, the state’s contribution to education funding is only 36%, among the lowest in the U.S.
    • Funding disparities are widening achievement gaps along racial and ethnic lines. Students of color are disproportionately represented in underfunded schools.
  • If the state doesn’t invest more money in public education, property taxes will increase and student achievement gaps will worsen.
  • The budget impasse has taken matters from bad to worse. Schools have borrowed more than $1 billion this year to stay afloat, and the interest on those loans is already costing $40 million. Further delay will mean even more borrowing. That means schools will have to pay down debt instead of buying books or restoring academic programs.
  • Students are not to blame for the state’s school funding crisis or the fact that the budget impasse has dragged on for nine months, but it is their problem. All students deserve basic supplies like history books that aren’t decades old, access to libraries and computers, and classrooms that aren’t overcrowded. Each year a solution is delayed is another year a child does not get back.
  • So it is important that the state legislature pass a budget right away. But not just any budget will do.
  • This year’s budget crunch is only a symptom of the larger school funding crisis, which is that the amount of money available to educate a child in Pennsylvania in insufficient and varies widely, depending on where each child happens to live.
  • It is time for the state to begin to not only stop the bleeding from the current budget impasse, but to begin healing from the damage caused by years of underfunding public education and of inequitable distribution of state dollars.

Learn more at the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, of which LAMPa is a member.

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