The Education Policy and Leadership Center has led and/or participated in several activities that were designed to promote action by state policymakers to reform Pennsylvania’s education finance system.
The necessary education finance reforms should:
- align the education funding system with the state’s academic standards and assessments to ensure that adequate educational capacity is available to every student in the Commonwealth;
- increase the overall state share of K-12 funding;
- reduce the gap of funding and educational resources available among the state’s 501 school districts;
- promote effective accountability measures linked to the K-12 school finance system;
- improve the funding system for special education costs; and
- improve the funding system for charter schools.
- Beginning in April 2001, EPLC convened and facilitated several meetings of an informal Education Funding Advocacy Group that included representatives of more than twenty organizations that actively supported efforts to improve Pennsylvania’s statewide system of education finance. This effort was designed to: 1) share information about education funding initiatives by policymakers and the activities of the respective organizations; and 2) develop “common messages” for public and policymaker audiences.
- During the summer and fall of 2001, EPLC coordinated efforts of the informal Education Funding Advocacy Group to offer materials and briefing sessions to 2002 gubernatorial candidates or their representatives. Two candidate teams requested and were provided briefings.
- In March 2002, on behalf of more than ten organizations, EPLC mailed a ten-question survey to every Pennsylvania Primary candidate for Governor, Lt. Governor, State House and State Senate. Responses were received from more than 150 candidates and were posted on EPLC’s web site.
- In June/July 2002, EPLC sponsored a Seminar for legislative candidates that focused on several key education policy issues including education finance issues.
- In September 2002, EPLC published the Pennsylvania School Finance Primer to help promote a better understanding of the state’s education finance system among several audiences including state and local education policymakers, media representatives, candidates for public office, EPLC leadership program participants, and others.
- In September 2002, EPLC hosted the Pennsylvania K-12 Education Finance Symposium. More than 150 people representing school boards, higher education, the legislature, and more attended the two-day Symposium. Sessions included presentations by key policymakers who were principal actors in one or more reform activities; staff of the National Conference of State Legislatures; and Executive Director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Michael Rebell. In addition to providing information about how other states have addressed similar education funding issues and the history of Pennsylvania’s education finance system, the Symposium also provided an opportunity for reform advocates to collaborate and to disseminate information and an opportunity to support efforts to make education finance reform a significant 2002 General Election campaign issue.
- EPLC includes materials and discussion about education finance reform issues in the curricula for its Education Policy Fellowship Program and its periodic community education forums. Participants in all of these programs are encouraged and supported with materials to remain active as members of a statewide network of citizens who actively support more effective state-level education policies, including education funding policies.
- EPLC will continue to be a resource and/or provide a speaker on education finance issues, upon request, for events sponsored by other organizations. March/April 2002 events included a class for education doctoral candidates at Shippensburg University, two undergraduate education classes at Duquesne University, an education funding “interfaith vigil” in Pittsburgh; a Pittsburgh-area community forum on education funding sponsored by the Pittsburgh Council for Public Education and the Mon Valley Education Consortium; the annual PA Black Council on Higher Education Legislative Conference; and a KDKA-TV business program.
- EPLC will continue to provide technical support upon request to any policymaker or any significant organizational efforts that are designed to promote meaningful education funding reform in Pennsylvania.
- Throughout all of its work, EPLC continues to seek opportunities to initiate or support action that can contribute to efforts to enact reforms to Pennsylvania’s K-12 education finance system.