When School Funding Isn’t Fair

What does educational inequity look like in Pennsylvania’s schools?
(EWA Radio: Episode 180)

In recent years, multiple U.S. Secretaries of education, appointed by both Republicans and Democrats, have called access to quality public schools a civil rights issue. At the same time, a growing number of states face court challenges to how they fund their K-12 systems, amid concerns that current approaches exacerbate inequities, particularly for historically underserved groups like students of color. In a new project for Public Source, a nonprofit news site, Mary Niederberger looks at these issues in Pennsylvania, including the long-term impact on students, schools, and communities where education dollars have been stretched to the breaking point. In wealthier districts, fine arts programs, up-to-date facilities and Advanced Placement classes are considered standard. But for students in poorer schools, often just a few miles away, outdated textbooks and minimal opportunities for advanced learning, fine arts programs, and support services are widespread. What’s the latest on a lawsuit demanding an overhaul of Pennsylvania’s school finance system? What does the data show on disparities in educational opportunities based on the local tax base? And how did Niederberger, an EWA Reporting Fellow, use that data to inform her on-the-ground reporting in classrooms and schools? She also offers tips for spotlighting student voices, and suggests story ideas for reporters covering school equity issues in their own communities.

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