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The Upside-Down System: Inequity in Pennsylvania’s System of Public Education

RFA’s Director of Policy Research David Lapp delivered testimony at a hearing before the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) in Lancaster on September 21, 2023. The BEFC is a bipartisan group of 15 state officials. Their purpose is to review how state funding is distributed to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The commission is hosting a series of hearings to gather diverse perspectives that will drive recommendations to improve the system of funding public education.

In his testimony, Lapp underscored three crucial points: first, Pennsylvania’s system of public education is characterized by alarming inequity, setting it apart from other states in an unfavorable manner, manifesting in funding gaps, opportunity disparities, and achievement gaps. Second, to rectify these disparities, the state must establish adequacy targets for school funding, supported by empirically based methods, some of which are already embedded in state law. Finally, Lapp highlighted that Pennsylvania’s public schools can excel when equitably and adequately funded, emphasizing the need for repair in neglected areas and the importance of ensuring that all Pennsylvania communities have the necessary resources to make their schools thrive for every student.

Download the testimony here.

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