On Tuesday, April 23rd, Millersville University will rally for Education Justice in front of the library.
Come join us and share your passion for education.
Be part of the change you want to see by stepping up to voice your ideas and concerns, by learning about what legislation is proposed, by being an engaged citizen, and by forming an opinion on ways that–for example–Pennsylvania can move from the dead last state in the nation in high education (yeah… we are LAST) to something … better. We owe this to our younger siblings, our children, our state, and our democracy, because without education, democracy falters. So don’t just stand back… care about your world.
Email Rachel Hicks
Some of the education advocates who will be attending include:
- Democratic Whip Representative Jordan A. Harris
- Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA
- Representative Mike Sturla, 96th Legislative District, Lancaster County
- Ms. Sherri Castillo, Communication Arts Teacher, Gay Student Alliance Adviser
- Representatives of POWER (an interfaith coalition committed to building communities of opportunity that work for all)
- Mr. Nathaniel Warren, PA Student Power Network (Millersville)
- Dr. Ken Smith, President of APSCUF (Association of PA State College and University Faculties) Millersville
Education Justice is an intentionally broad term. You can slice it however you want, to address a concern that you feel strongly about. Here are some concerns that people have been talking about recently:
Higher Education (also called: University/College Funding, Post-Secondary Funding)
This is a topic you all have some experience with—your tuition dollars and debt. In recent decades, Pennsylvania has contributed less to the cost of running universities. Whereas in the past, PA would use its tax dollars to support the state colleges, now it supports them less.
For example, PA spends 37.3% less per student in 2018 than it did in 2008 (adjusted for inflation). What does that mean? It means that the money the state isn’t putting in has to come from tuition dollars, which eventually becomes debt, your debt. As taxpayers, we do have some say about how our dollars are spent—do you agree with the allocation? Do you know of some other ways that the state could fund education so that students and their families aren’t financially stressed? Speak out then (with a speech on the 23rd, or a video, or a meme, or a social media campaign) on the issue.
Racial Bias in the Funding of PA K-12 Schools
Would it surprise you to find out that the K-12 schools that have more students of color in PA get less money from the Pennsylvania government per student than schools with more white students? You would think someone might fix that, and they did with a Fair Funding formula (see attachment). Unfortunately, one of the conditions of the new formula is that it applies only to the new money brought in in taxes, leaving the vast majority of funds to be distributed in the old way. People are trying to change that—what do you think should be done to be fair?
See video: Racial Bias in PA Funding
Funding for Special Education
Do you believe that students with disabilities should have the resources they need to succeed? It probably won’t surprise you that special education expenditures have also risen in the past 10 years—but state support, not so much. From 2008/09-2016/17, expenditures in School District of Lancaster for Special education rose over $8 million, or 40%. Where the state used to pay 41% of those costs, in 2016-17 it only paid 33%. That forced local funds to cover 59% (see attachment), forcing local taxpayers to foot more of the bill. What would be fair for covering the costs of special education?
As aspects of gender fluidity became more prominent in the national discussion, debates about the rights of LGBTQ+ students became more prominent in both K-12 and universities. Some of these revolved around practical issues (for example, issues of bathrooms), while others were more focused on support within the learning environments (for example, PA law did not explicitly protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, until in 2018 the Human Relations Commission stated that these categories were covered under sex discrimination in existing law). Does PA do enough to support the LGBTQ+ students? How could things be fairer? More supportive?
Do you want more financial support from the state for post-secondary education? Would you consider new legislation? Consider the proposed PA Promise legislation (excerpt below is from the proposal, which is attached)—is it fair?
The Need for Investment
There is a pressing need for reinvestment in post‐secondary education and training in Pennsylvania.
- Thirty‐five years of state disinvestment have left Pennsylvania ranked worst in the nation when it comes to higher education, sunk in the rankings by students’ high debt at graduation and the state’s high tuition and fees, according to U.S. News and World Report.
- The state ranks 40th for the share of adults 25‐64 with an education beyond high school. In over half of Pennsylvania counties (35), the share of adults with more than a high‐school degree is lower than in any of the 50 states (i.e., lower than West Virginia’s 48.1%).
- A large body of economic research shows that lagging educational attainment translates to lower wages and incomes for individuals and slower economic growth for regions.
- The Wall Street Journal has already labeled rural America the “new inner city,” the nation’s most troubled regions. Rural Pennsylvania has so far escaped the fates of some parts of West Virginia and Kentucky. But if Pennsylvania’s rural counties remain higher education deserts, it would guarantee their accelerating decline over the next generation.
The Pennsylvania Promise
For about a billion per year, Pennsylvania could:
- cover two years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate enrolled full‐time at one of the Commonwealth’s 14 public community colleges;
- cover four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $110,000 per year accepted into one of the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education;
- provide 4 years of grants ranging from $2,000 up to $11,000, depending on family income, for students accepted into a state‐related university.
- Provide free college tuition and fees for adults without a college degree, with priority going to those seeking in‐demand skills and industry‐recognized credentials, as well as college credit.
- Currently per capita funding for higher education in Pennsylvania ranks 47th out of 50 states.9 The increase in state spending required under the Pennsylvania Promise would raise Pennsylvania’s rank to 36th.