Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's Opportunity Gap

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Thousands of students in Philadelphia staged a massive, city-wide walkout recently to protest the under-resourcing of their schools and school closures. A number of OTL allies participated in the event, including the Philadelphia Student Union and Youth United for Change, two of the largest student organizing groups in the city.
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Mass school closings have become a hallmark of today's dominant education policy agenda. But rather than helping students, these closures disrupt whole communities. And as U.S. Department of Education data suggests, the most recent rounds of mass closings in Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia disproportionately hurt Black and low-income students.

Media Mobilizing Project has created an amazing new project to share the personal stories of parents, students and educators in Philadelphia's public schools. Their website, "Voices from our Public Schools" collects these stories to create a larger narrative around why people love their public schools and how they feel Pennsylvania's budget cuts to education have hurt them.

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A new report from the Basic Education Funding Commission gives recommendations for developing a fair school funding formula in Pennsylvania, clarifying what factors must be considered in calculating students' diverse needs and highlighting the overall importance of a funding system that ensures schools can meet those needs.

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As Pennsylvania's state budget deadline looms, organizers like the PA Alliance to Reclaim our Schools (PA AROS) and a coalition of faith and community leaders are ramping up pressure for a budget that fairly funds Pennsylvania schools. PA AROS organized a statewide bus tour this past month, which stopped at 13 cities to meet with parents, students, teachers, state senators and other local leaders. The tour finished on June 29 with a rally at the capitol.

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As policymakers apply ever higher stakes to standardized tests, parents, educators, and students have been speaking out against the damage this causes to their education. In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Student Union started a photo campaign with the hashtag #MoreThanATest to show just how and why these tests fail to measure their full potential.

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Two polls illuminate how deeply Pennsylvania voters care about funding for their schools with 74% of voters supporting an increase in funding and 80% supporting the creation a fair funding formula to distribute state aid to the schools and students with the highest needs.

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Data
Annie E. Casey Foundation, Jul 2013
The 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book provides a detailed picture of how children are faring in the United States. In addition to ranking states on overall child well-being, the Data Book ranks states in four domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.
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Policy
National Education Policy Center, May 2013
The National Education Policy Center's new book "Closing the Opportunity Gap" offers a wide array of policy recommendations for closing the opportunity gap and ensuring all students have the resources they need to succeed. This policy guide distills the most important recommendations from the book at three different levels: at the level of students' individual needs, at the level of in-school opportunities and resources, and at the level of communities and neighborhoods.
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Graph/Visual
Opportunity to Learn Campaign , Apr 2013
Mass school closings have become a hallmark of today's dominant education policy agenda. But rather than helping students, these closures disrupt whole communities. And as U.S. Department of Education data suggests, the most recent rounds of mass closings in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia disproportionately hurt Black and low-income students. Click here to learn about alternatives that support students rather than close school doors on them.
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