AG Shapiro Files Brief In Support Of Fair Funding In Pennsylvania Schools

May 17, 2022 | Topic: Peoples AG

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed an amicus brief in support of a watershed lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s public school funding system for failing to provide all children with a high-quality education that prepares them for career and civic life.

“Every child in our Commonwealth should have access to a high-quality education and safe learning environment regardless of their zip code. Many Pennsylvania schools are not able to provide the level of education required by the Constitution—not for lack of trying, but for lack of funding. I commend the tireless efforts of dedicated teachers and administrators who have struggled for years to do the most for our children with the least amount of resources. It is past time for the General Assembly to step up, comply with its constitutional obligations, and give our public schools the funding they need to educate our children. The Court’s decision may determine the course of public education in Pennsylvania for generations to come, and our brief makes clear to the Court what is at stake.”

The brief argues that the Education Clause in the Pennsylvania Constitution requires the General Assembly to provide a high-quality system of public education. The Education Clause states:

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.

Pa. Const. Art. III § 14. The brief examines the language of the Constitution and court decisions from Pennsylvania and other states. It also provides the Court with a detailed historical perspective about the adoption of the Education Clause, and how it was modernized in 1967 to expand the General Assembly’s obligation. The brief concludes that, properly interpreted, the Education Clause requires the General Assembly to provide every child in Pennsylvania a comprehensive, effective, and contemporary public education.

The brief further argues that the General Assembly is failing to meet its constitutional obligations. The brief argues that the Court must look both at the resources going into Pennsylvania’s public schools and at whether our children are actually learning and graduating ready for career and civil life. The evidence shows that Pennsylvania public schools are lacking on both accounts, notwithstanding the best efforts of teachers and administrators. As a result, the General Assembly is not providing for a “thorough and efficient” public education system.

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