As Pennsylvania's state budget deadline looms, organizers like the Pennsylvania 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 various cities and towns to meet with parents, students, teachers, state senators and other local leaders. The tour finished on June 29 with a rally at the capitol, joining faith leader's Moral Takeover to urge senators and representatives to support a fair budget.
Pennsylvania schools have one of the largest funding gaps between districts, leaving some without crucial resources like school nurses, basic school supplies or textbooks. Governor Wolf has proposed a budget that would create a fair funding formula to lessen these inequities as well as more fully fund all Pennsylvania schools, but current opposition from Republican legislators makes it unlikely the budget will pass before the deadline.
The bus tour made 13 stops before finally reaching the state capitol. The hundreds who lobbied there on June 29 urged their legislators to support fair and full funding of their schools. PA AROS spoke with legislators; had students, teachers, and parents talk about their experiences in Pennsylvania schools; and demonstrated throughout the building. They were joined by a coalition of faith groups staging a 'moral takeover' of the capitol to also advocate for adequate funding and resources.
From the PA AROS statement about the bus tour:
For too long, Pennsylvania has failed to provide the necessary resources to ensure a high-quality public education for all students, especially for the 19 percent of students that are living in poverty. Over just the last four years, 70 percent of Pennsylvania schools have increased class sizes; 44 percent of districts have cut art, music and sports programs; and 35 percent of districts have slashed tutoring programs. All told, the state has lost more than 23,000 teachers and support staff.