Originally published in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
For seven years, school districts and parents have been suing the state of Pennsylvania, arguing that it is failing to provide adequate, equitable funding for public schools. Recently, a judge considered pretrial motions in preparation for the trial’s start date on September 9.
While Pennsylvanians will undoubtedly hear much about the case, let’s be clear that the plaintiffs — represented by the Education Law Center (ELC) — base their allegations largely on myths, and their claims are dubious at best.
The primary legal argument is that the state has failed in its constitutional duties by not sending what ELC deems the proper amount to low-income districts, relative to other districts.
But the Pennsylvania Constitution doesn’t direct the state to favor certain districts over others by any measure, nor does it specify how much the state must spend. It simply requires that: “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”
Considering state-level funding of education has…