Tuesday saw a Pennsylvania judge rule in favor of poorer school districts and other plaintiffs in a suit over the commonwealth’s system of funding public schools, a system that critics call broken and benefits wealthier districts.
This PA Fair Funding lawsuit from various school districts, like Greater Johnstown School District, and groups such as the Pennsylvania NAACP is a decade in the making.
Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer on Tuesday ruled the school funding system as unconstitutional.
“It’s a long time coming, Finally, the state has recognized that every student has the opportunity to learn when provided the opportunity to learn.”
The judge writes that the state is violating the rights of students in poorer districts by preventing a “comprehensive, effective, and contemporary” education.
“Lawmakers are in the process of going through their funding determinations, And with a decision like this in front of them, certainly they’re going to take into consideration the fact that they need to meet that standard. And they are under court order to do so.”
It’s not yet clear where the funding would come from, if they would give less money to wealthier districts, or something else.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers say they will hash out a potential plan with the governor and some legislators. They acknowledge, however, that the courts will have to approve.
“And so, it is through that judicial oversight that we ensure that there will be a prompt delivery of adequate and equitable funding, But certainly, there’s nothing to stop the legislature from acting this budget cycle to ensure that we have a down payment … on that constitutional mandate.”
Despite a number of education advocates framing this ruling as a victory, there’s still a chance for an appeal.