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.

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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The school funding case working its way through the Pennsylvania court system ran into a temporary setback when a lower court ruled that the court system lacked the jurisdiction to rule on whether the state was failing to provide adequate funding to schools and students. The defendants are filing an appeal and the case will now advance to the State Supreme Court.

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The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCP) filed a suit on behalf of six school districts, two associations, and seven parents against the state in an attempt to prove that the government has failed to provide the "thorough and efficient" public educational system promised in the state constitution.

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Education advocates in Pennslyvania continue to fight for equitable funding for their schools, and especially for the drastically underfunded district of Philladelphia. Budget cuts left the distrct without supplies, school nurses, and other much needed resources, depriving students of the most basic nessecities for a quality education. The Campaign for Fair Education Funding's (CFEF) new proposal would provide desperately needed relief to this and to other struggling districts.

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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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