The following is a Letter to the Editor from Ambler resident Gary Sieling. The views expressed within are his own.

The case for equitable school funding in Pennsylvania

(Credit: Alexander Mils / Unsplash.com)

  • Opinion

I’m the parent of two elementary students in the Wissahickon School District, one of whom is in special ed. We have family in Norristown and Philadelphia, with several nieces on the cusp of entering kindergarten.

Over the summer, the Basic Education Funding Commission presented a report that can revolutionize public education in Pennsylvania. This report meets the requirement for a constitutional funding system as required by the Commonwealth Court. It rights the wrongs that the quality of your school is tied to your zip code, that 86% of Pennsylvania students are in underfunded schools, and that Pennsylvania ranks dead last in the U.S. for racial inequity in education funding.

The zip code you’re born into shouldn’t determine the quality of education you get.

We all know this isn’t true: when we buy a house, we flock to good districts like Wissahickon and Upper Dublin. We can see the effect of that in rising housing prices. I’ve heard from several people that this trend forces young people to choose between living at home and moving away from their support system, which impacts families and businesses.

Even “good” districts seem unable to fulfill the needs of the community at current funding levels. Everyone wants the best for their kids, and I know many folks who send their children to private schools. It’s wonderful that they are able to provide a great education for their kids. However, private schools aren’t obligated to accept all children who apply, leaving public school as the only option for many families. It’s worth noting that 19% of Wissahickon’s 5,110 students are in Special Ed, which is the same as the statewide average, according to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Pennsylvania can achieve adequate and equitable school funding, and it’s time for the legislature to take action to produce a sustainable plan to do just that.

I am coordinating visits with legislators to insist on equitable education funding — contact me if you’d like to be involved: gary.sieling@gmail.com.


Gary Sieling
Ambler Borough 

Saturday, July 13, 2024


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