press release

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Tonight I attended a candle light vigil at UPenn in order to honor the work of Good Schools Pennsylvania, a grassroots campaign to gain equitable funding for public schools in PA. The following is a press release written by the Good Schools director of public relations. I’m hoping that it would be possible to publish it in an upcoming issue of the Villanovan. Thank you

~Lindsey Kelpin

College Students Call on Pennsylvania to

Adopt a Sound Funding Formula for Public Education

(Philadelphia, PA) – As the General Assembly and Governor Rendell debate the education budget for the coming year, students from five area college campuses took time from their studies to urge the state to do a better job of funding and supporting public education.

�gThis year marks the 50th anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education, the historic school desegregation case upholding that a separate education is not an equal education,�h Swarthmore College student Stefanie Wong said at a Speak-Out for Educational Justice, held March 31 on the Penn campus. �gWhile it�fs true that we do not have legalized separation of students, Pennsylvania has a much less visible system of inequality, but one that is just as harmful to students, and just as deserving of our scrutiny and reform.�h

National studies show that Pennsylvania is one of the lowest ranking states in the country when state share of education costs is measured. This low level of state support for public education means that an exceptionally large share of education costs is shouldered by local taxpayers. Consequently, the quality of Pennsylvania�fs schools depends on the wealth of each of the districts. Today, this inequity amounts to over $210,000 per classroom of 25 students in instructional costs alone. This figure is part of what earns Pennsylvania a D-, placing it third from the bottom, in an annual report on school quality from Education Week.

Participating in the speak-out were students from University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, Temple University and Villanova University. The students met earlier this year for a campus leaders training sponsored by Good Schools Pennsylvania to consider strategies for statewide campus grassroots actions around education reform.

�gThe practice of zip code schooling is the civil rights issue of our generation. Because we are privileged enough to be in college, we feel a special obligation to advocate for equal opportunity for all students,�h said Lindsey Kelpin, a Villanova student. �gIn addition, as college students in Pennsylvania, we are particularly concerned about the low ranking of our state�fs public schools as we make decisions about where we will eventually choose to raise our own kids.�h

Stephanie Nelson, campus organizer for Good Schools Pennsylvania, says that college students have been critical to the success of the campaign, which is credited with making school reform a key issue of the 2002 gubernatorial campaign, and putting pressure on the governor and General Assembly to implement this year the first-ever accountability block grant program, which targets funds to schools where significant numbers of students are failing to make adequate academic progress.

�gThe $175 million promised by the General Assembly to fund the Accountability Block Grant Program is a first step in the right direction,�h said Nelson. �gHowever, the critical next step is for the state legislature to overhaul the state funding formula so that it is adequate, equitable and predictable, ensuring all schools have the financial resources to help all students become academically proficient.�h

Past involvement by college students in the Good Schools Pennsylvania Campaign has included the first ever college student rally for public education in Harrisburg, and the �ephone slam�f for public education, where college students throughout Pennsylvania devoted a day to calling their state legislators.

Good Schools Pennsylvania is a statewide non-profit organization working with a coalition of education, religious and civic associations to mobilize parents, students and concerned citizens for comprehensive public education reform, including:

�¡ Adequate and equitable funding of every school district;

�¡ Implementation of programs with proven capacity to boost student achievement

�¡ Commonsense accountability measures to make sure every child succeeds.