Vision and Approach:
POWER believes that all children deserve great schools, regardless of race, ethnicity or income. POWER is organizing and mobilizing members of the Pennsylvania faith community to confront widespread, systemic and educational inequality in Philadelphia and throughout the state.
As people of faith, we refuse to accept this discrimination. Along with calls, letters and emails sent to our local, state and congressional representatives, we are joining with advocates and groups and taking our fair funding demands directly to officials in the capitol building in Harrisburg and to their offices in districts across Pennsylvania. Here in the Lehigh Valley, we continue to work for local control of our schools that reflects the voices and needs of parents, students, teachers and community members.
Today, while some Pennsylvania students go to public schools that are among the best in the nation, too many of our students lack access to quality education. This inequity is caused in great part by inadequate state funding, which covers only 35% of total costs (compared to 50% on average in states around the country). This leaves local districts to make up the rest and places low-income districts at a disadvantage.
Further, research conducted by POWER has revealed deep and persistent racial disparities in the way the state’s Basic Education Funding is distributed to the 500 school districts across Pennsylvania. A Fair Funding Formula passed in 2016 was a small step in the right direction, but this only affected a sliver of total education spending in the state. In 2017-18, on average, districts with significant numbers of children of color continue to receive $2,100 per student less than their fair share according to the formula, while predominantly white districts receive $2,100 more than their fair share. Too many of our state legislators do not acknowledge this issue, refusing to take steps towards creating a more just system.
On June 12, 2019, POWER people were one thousand strong in the Capitol Rotunda. Everyone in the Capitol Building heard our message loud and clear: we want 100% fair funding for Pennsylvania children, now! Reps. Michael Turzai, Curt Sonney, and Frank Dermody heard it, too, when our clergy staged pray-ins in their offices.
Today we remain on fire for justice. Channel that energy into continued action:
–Write and call your legislators to demand that they support HB 961 and SB 362 (find your elected officials here). If they already support the bill, thank them.
– Come to one of our regional meetings on next steps in this struggle: June 19 in Pottstown.
For more information, see powerinterfaith.org/campaigns/education/.