On the 65th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision, Rep. Chris Rabb (D-Philadelphia) celebrated a school opening a new library. He also took time to discuss the need for fair funding for education.
Rabb has introduced legislation to funnel all the education budget through the proposed “fair funding” formula. Currently only new funds have gone through the student-weighted approach, which is about nine percent of the total state budget.
Speaking at Franklin S. Edmonds Elementary School in the Cedarbrook section of Philadelphia, Rabb talked to students and residents about the importance of the Supreme Court decision – and how the Assembly had an obligation to honor that legacy.
“You would think if that were the decision of the day 65 years ago that we wouldn’t be here in 2019, in the state that is the seventh-most segregated state in terms of public schools,” Rabb said. He cited research from POWER Interfaith, a community activist group in Philadelphia, that the biggest determining factor in school funding in Pennsylvania is the percentage of white students in a district.
Rabb hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing earlier this year to highlight the funding disparities in poorer districts across the state, many of which have higher percentages of students of color. Philadelphia has struggled to maintain firm financial footing, although local taxes have managed to overcome funding drops from the state.
Before the event, Rabb spoke of the need for HB 961, which re-introduces the concepts brought up last session of funding based on local poverty and daily student averages. This time, he’s received more co-sponsors, from both sides of the aisle.
“[The bill] puts 100 percent of state education dollars through the fair funding formula so that we all get our fair share, regardless of the bodies we inhabit or what zip codes we live in,” he said before the unveiling.
Rabb doesn’t believe the bill will be heard before the summer break. However, POWER has planned a bus trip to advocate for education in Harrisburg on June 12th.
Author: Marco Cerino/Tuesday, May 21, 2019