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PA’s Historic School-Funding Lawsuit to Hear Closing Arguments

by Emily Scott, Keystone State News Connection

Mar 09, 2022

Closing arguments in Pennsylvania’s landmark school-funding trial will take place on Thursday, after several months of testimony from teachers, education officials and researchers.

Since November, attorneys representing school districts, parents and statewide organizations have presented evidence in Commonwealth Court to show the way schools are funded in the state violates the education clause and equal-protection provisions of the state Constitution.

Deborah Gordon Klehr, executive director of the Education Law Center, said closing arguments are a chance for petitioners to summarize the important evidence and testimony from the trial.

“We’re looking for a commitment from the state for substantial and sustained new investments in state funding for public education,” Gordon Klehr explained. “Distributed to districts based on need so that local wealth no longer determines whether Pennsylvania students receive a quality public education.”

The Education Law Center, Public Interest Law Center and O’Melveny law firm represent the case’s petitioners. Members of the public can watch the trial live Thursday at 9 a.m. at fundourschoolspa.org/trial.

After closing arguments, advocates will continue the push for equitable school funding while they await the judge’s decision.

Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, said on March 15, organizers will host vigils statewide to demonstrate how much residents care about their public schools. Vigils are planned in Philadelphia, Shippensburg, Allentown, Lancaster, Reading and Pottstown.

“What we need to do is make sure our lawmakers understand that their constituents expect them to fix this,” Spicka asserted. “We don’t have to wait for the court to rule. We understand very clearly how much harm the system is causing to children, and it’s time for lawmakers to fund our schools.”

In his final budget, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed $1.75 billion in education funding.

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