Activists Consider School Funding Lawsuit

Education Law Center and Public Interest Law Center considering joint litigation to get more money for schools.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports: “The Education Law Center, a legal advocacy organization in Pennsylvania, and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia are strongly considering a lawsuit against the state within the next few months, according to Executive Director of the Education Law Center Rhonda Brownstein.

Since 2011, the School District of Philadelphia has faced declining budgets. Over the past three years, the school district has operated with a cumulative three year loss of over $790 million.

“By failing to provide adequate funding to allow all students to meet standards, the state is violating the ‘thorough and efficient clause’ of the Pennsylvania constitution,” Brownstein said.

A similar lawsuit failed in 1997, but activists believe they have a better opportunity this time.

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • matthew brandley

    When you have so mant people on welfare , familiease that pay nothing in the way of taxes in to the system due to not paying any taxes what do you expect? free food, housing, utilties, medical everything! over 1/3 of city residents get something for nothing from the feds, almost all city residents are obama voters. What the hell would one expect? Its the perfect example of insanity folks! And your not going to fix these stupid people any time soon. Look at the animals they produce and the idiots that attend the scools if they go at all.

    • robe

      Learn to spell schools, stupid!

      • matthew brandley

        you must be a moronic libtard since I dont have spell check I didnt check my spelling so eff you asshole! not as perfect as you douche bag! assholes like you dont deserve to be in this world if all you have to do is criticise people! Piss off

        • thebrightguy

          Matthew, I think that ‘robe’ was just pointing out that people that post with spelling and grammar mistakes can’t be taken seriously. If you lack basic spelling and grammar skills, it is pretty clear that the comments you’re posting are uneducated and nonsensical. If you like expressing/pointing out all the BS that is around us, take a moment and use the English language correctly so that you can get your point across like an educated American and not come across like a idiotic moron.

          • matthew brandley

            Listen asshole! did I spell that correctly? I am to damn old to go back let alone care to learn how to spell every damn word correctly and please every damn anal retentive douche bag in the world who thinks they are so damn perfect just like assholes like you are. I know way more about whats going on in the world business wise and politacal wise than you and most common people. For you or anyone else to judge somebody because of spelling is wrong and uncalled for! it proves how arrogant , rude , obnoxous and just how plane libutrds you bastards are. typical democraps

          • thebrightguy

            You are a funny old man. Funny and very poorly informed about what’s happening in the world. I feel bad for you. It’s really funny that you say you shouldn’t be judged for your poor spelling or grammar, but yet you think it’s fine to judge (blame everything on) one person (Obama) or one group (democrats), or even in one of your comments, you blame the Russians in Philadelphia. So, you are judging them based on the facts that you’ve gathered and what you know to be true. Well, people are doing the same to you – judging the accuracy of statements based on your delivery. It’s proven that people with poor spelling/grammar are just plain dumb and lack critical thinking skills. In short, you’re the pot calling the kettle. It’s fine, come back with some misspelled, obscenity-laced “crazy” reply. I need a laugh today.

          • Edmund Charles

            Well if one listens to some of the teachers verbal rhetoric that is shown on the local Philadelphia TV stations during some protest interviews, one would logically conclude that as per their spoken words, some of the teachers sorely need some English classes themselves. There is an abundance of double-negatives being spouted about and the incorrect use of many grammatical sentence structures. maybe we need more foreign-trained teachers in the school system, as it seems they have a better command of the native language than those people born into the present teacher accreditation system.

          • thebrightguy

            Very much agreed that there are some poor examples/teachers out there that do nothing to advance us.

          • Edmund Charles

            But they could be better teachers as all of us are able to be educated to standards. I grew up in the 1960s and every teacher that I had spoke and wrote correctly- these were the standards of the day and students were corrected when they misspoke- this is how one learns, through study, repetition and correction/mistakes. Educators today no longer want to insult anyone, so they ‘pass-on’ errors in grammar and speech, the result is the deterioration of the spoken and written word. Poorly trained teachers go on to pass along their errors to a whole class of students and the cycle continues. I am learning new information every day and I am not embarrassed by my lack of ignorance in a particular field, no one knows everything and this is the true please of education both inside and outside the formal classroom.

          • Edmund Charles

            I understand your corrections of grammar and the implication of undereducated people voicing their opinions on an informal blogboard, yet how many uneducated and ignorant people vote!

          • thebrightguy

            Great point! I was just going after Matthew based on his history of comments on all these news stories (his profile shows all his posts). Aside from spelling and grammar, all of his posts are really just rambling, nonsensical comments that blame democrats, Obama, Russians, and anyone else that his narrow perspective feels is fair game. There is not one shred of fact in any of his posts. It’s as if he is upset with the world and just wants to ramble like a senile person. I’m all for people that are frustrated and upset about unfair and unjust policy and point out the issues, but don’t have any respect for people that like to bitch and misplace blame. Nothing is black and white, and any Democrat or Republican that sits back and points the finger is avoiding the simple fact that they are just as much guilty. Really tired of the polarized politics and the idiotic people that believe that the other side is the one to blame.

    • DTurner

      To be fair though, PA has not held up its end of the bargain with state control; it’s pretty easy to see why Philadelphians would be a little ticked off at Harrisburg for claiming that the city was too incompetent to run the school system when they have made the schools dramatically worse over the last decade.

  • Murphy_Thom

    The Phila SD spent close to 17K per student last year.. money isn’t the problem. Funding has increased significantly over the last 10 years, student population has decreased yet test scores have decreased. When there’s more TV’s than books in houses – all the money in the world won’t solve the education issues in Phila. Increased funding for education won’t fix the the social / family issues many have in Phila. households.

    • Edmund Charles

      People do not want to hear that the problem resides within themselves- a classic case of mass denial, the same is true for social security reform! We have a system that is predicated and operated on emotion instead of logic and as we see in nature, natural rules is supreme. Look at Korean school children, they are enrolling in extra credit courses after the end of the school day and they study every nigh for several hours. Family, peers, teachers and the student are all involved in the educational process and it is a shame to be stupid, uneducated and a school drop-out. A decline in discipline and standards is the root cause for why ‘Johnny/Mary’ cannot read or write.

  • Maureen Fratantoni

    I remember bringing this at a Town Hall Meeting. I am glad to see them following through. Unfortunately, lawsuits take time. I wonder if there is any way that they can speed up this process.

    • Right Said Fred

      How much money per student is enough?
      Filing a lawsuit is not a plan. Tell us how much per student is enough and why money fixes the problem this time when it never has in the past.

      • Maureen Fratantoni

        A terrible injustice has been done here, Fred. In the few years they have starved our schools of the resources that our students need to succeed. For crying out loud, we did not even have paper to start the year off with. I am a Home and School President. Our Home and School bought the school paper. What is wrong with this picture, Fred? Basic need are not being met!!! No nurses, counselors that we had to fight for to get back. No librarians in schools that have a cybrary. Does that even make sense? The list goes on and I am sure you have seen it over the last year. Our leaders need to do what is right. They have breached the state constitution. Each child is entitled to have what they need to succeed. Watch a documentary on Vimeo called “Our Schools Are Not For Sale.” I am in it at the beginning and ending. It went viral. This will sum up how us parents and teachers feel about what is going on. My clip is also, included in a movie that is going national called “Standardized.” See is you can watch that, also.

        • right said fred

          Maybe the problem isn’t the funding. Maybe it’s to much overhead costs within the Philly education apparatus . If the process is broken and enough of the money allocated for each student is not reaching the classroom, how is more money going to help? How is that breaching the constitution? Seems to me that your analysis should start with the school system first. Prove to the state that the school system is using the money efficiently. If you can do this, it makes the lawsuit that much easier to win.
          I applaud the fact that you are involved, I think your starting point is wrong.

          • Edmund Charles

            There really needs to be an independent audit to be done by a reputable accounting firm on the Philadelphia school system- the Governor should initiate this to see where the tax and grant money is going and what efficiencies can be gained as a result of better funding/purchasing policies. Every year the school system is broke and every year the city goes ‘hat in hand’ to the Pa Governor asking for more money. This makes Philadelphia very unpopular with every other district in the state. A city must live within its means, look at Detroit for an example of where Philadelphia may be in a few years time.

        • Edmund Charles

          Get a 100% audit of the school system, with all the money that is pumped into the system, school supplies should not be an issue when these are bought em mass or in conjunction with other school systems (an educational school purchasing co-op). No other city/country in Pa has the perpetual funding issues as does Philadelphia and the problem may well be is that any school reform will encroach upon certain vested interests and thus the can is kicked down the road until the city declares bankruptcy.

    • Edmund Charles


      School funding is a perennial issue, however, it is not the single deciding element in the analysis for the poor quality of under-performing students and schools in Philadelphia. I think that there would no be so many objections from the public or state to increased school funding if the quality of school student better reflected the amount of money being used to educate and graduate a superior level of student. Schools and students in Asia receive far less funding that American students and they far surpass US students in terms of literacy and verbal/math skills. Yet money is the one, easy thing that can be quantified and constantly addressed, yet it has failed to be the strong denominator that correlates with better student performance. Like the War on Poverty and War on Drugs campaigns- these nobel intended programs have failed to achieve their desired goals despite a huge amount of money being thrown at these problems. One could spend $50,000 per student, however, unless the student, teacher, family and peers are all in support of learning, little will be achieved by merely throwing money at the issue. There needs to be fundamental reforms in education too. Distant and Internet learning need to be incorporated into the curriculum, as do mandatory courses that expose students to the general concepts of science and engineering; we rely more than ever on technology, yet few know the principles behind computer coding or electronics.

  • right said Fred

    How much per student will meet the “thorough and efficient ” clause? They get $17k per year per student? DC gets $29k per year per student has this made things better?
    I don’t think so!!!
    Are these organizations affiliated with teachers union by chance?
    This is the education equivalent of a living wage. Neither works.

  • Raw Material

    If we just give the school district an extra $3,000 per student, all the students in the district will get accepted by Princeton University.

  • Sarah Hagearty

    Mr. Brandley- Clearly you blame the poor for their poverty and there is an overtone that you believe the ‘poor’ hurt you or your brethren. What would you have society do? The only clear and proven escape from poverty is meaningful and effective education. The State took on the administration of the Philly school system and by all measures made a bad situation worse. The people who represent the State have education, shelter, food, safety, etc.– all the basic needs are covered. So I ask you, who really are the stupid people???? I would propose it is those who have pulled the strings at the State level not the ‘poor’. They should be held accountable.

    • Edmund Charles

      No – poverty alone is not the issue, if it were, then all the immigrants to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were have remained ignorant and amiss in a sea of inter-city crime. This did not happen! A strong social structure is required along with self and collective discipline. ‘Acting smart’ today is looked down upon by many young people and being ignorant should never be a ‘cool thing’, ‘smart is the new sexy’!