H-CAN Monthly Meeting: Race and Education Inequity

On Sunday, May 20, 2018, H-CAN's Racial Justice action group held a forum on Race and Education Inequity at H-CAN's monthly meeting. Speakers included Maura McInerney from the Education Law Center, Larry Feinberg from the Keystone State Education Coalition, Asheq Fazlullah and Nicole Johns from POWER, and Bonnie Koss from Social FUNdraising and Gatherings. 

 Members of the public came out in force to hear talks on Race and Education Inequity as well as take action.

Members of the public came out in force to hear talks on Race and Education Inequity as well as take action.

The presenters stressed the importance that a quality education is a right for all students—no matter that child's race. Several key takeaways:

  • Due to massive state cuts, 50% of districts raised elementary class sizes, 27,000 positions were cut statewide and 416 school districts raised property taxes post 2011-2015, a median increase of 6.6%.
  • Children in the Philadelphia school district are at risk to asbestos, have extremely large class sizes, lack resources, and some schools do not even have basic necessities such as toilet paper.
  • Pennsylvania spends 33% less on poor districts when compared to the rest of the states in the country. In comparison, Indiana spends 17% more on poor districts. PA ranks worst in the nation for inequity between poor and wealthy school districts.
  • Research shows that there is racial bias in the distribution of state funding for education. The more white the student population of a school is, the more likely the district is to receive more than their fair share of funding from the state, while school districts with a more diverse student body are more likely to receive less than their fair share of funding. This remains true, even when accounting for income and size of the school district.
  • School vouchers and Education Savings Accounts take away valuable resources from underfunded schools and distribute them to schools that are already adequately funded. Proponents of school choice, often point to charter schools as the solution. However, when students leave a public school to attend a charter, all the tax money follows that student to the charter school, leaving less money for public education.

How Can You Help?

Take action and make a difference by doing one (or all) of these actions:

  • Call your legislator and ask them to support full funding for our public schools and to oppose school vouchers, education savings accounts, and the growth of charters.
    • Rep Matt Bradford (610) 222-3490 Caucus Chair represents Norristown school district that is shortchanged $1373 per student.
    • Rep Tom Murt (215) 674-3755 represents Upper Moreland school district that is shortchanged $979 per student.
    • Sen Daylin Leach (610) 768-4200 on Education Committee represents Upper Merion
      school district that is shortchanged $720 per student.
    • Rep Jamie Santora (610) 789-2695 represents Upper Darby school district that is shortchanged $1252 per student.
    • Rep Margo Davidson (610) 259-7016 and Sen Anthony Williams (610)-284-7335 on Education Committee represent William Penn school district that is shortchanged $371 per student.
      • Here is a sample script: “Hello, this is (your name) calling (name of the senator or representative you’re calling). (Here, add your “credential,” if you have a
        connection to the legislator). I’m calling to URGE (name of legislator) to support putting ALL state education funding through the funding formula, in order to end the unfairness and racial bias of the present system. This change would greatly benefit schools in your district! I’d like to hear back from you about this. You can reach me at (your number or email). Thank you.”
  • Host an event. Are you outraged and saddened by what you learned today? Do you want everyone to hear this message?! Host your own event to spread this knowledge. It can be at your house, your community group, or your PTO! If you are part of a faith community, encourage them to join POWER and host an event! Volunteers from POWER will be happy to assist in facilitating.  Contact Nicole Johns or Will Fuller.
  • Donate to Social FUNdraising and Gatherings and DonorsChoose.org.
  • Share. Think of 3 people who are registered to vote in PA. Call these 3 people and if you are part of a faith community, call the leader of your congregation. Tell them what you learned today, and ask them to call their state lawmakers! If they don’t know who represents them, here’s the Pennsylvania General Assembly website. Then give them the sample script above in the "Call your legislator" section.  
  • Show up attend the POWER 100% School Funding Day of Action in Harrisburg on June 20th - RSVP. Learn more about the June 20th POWER event

Photo Gallery from the Event