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Litigating Education: The Quest To End Inequitable Funding in Pennsylvania


In 2015, the Washington Post published an article that drew attention to something many Pennsylvanians were already acutely aware of: the quality of the commonwealth’s schools varies drastically from district to district. One main reason for wide funding disparities between the districts is the heavy reliance upon local property tax revenues to fund public schools.

A current lawsuit, William Penn School District v. Pennsylvania Department of Education, is challenging the legislative scheme that apportions state funding to public schools in Pennsylvania. This Note will explain why education funding lawsuits throughout the commonwealth’s history have thus far not been successful in achieving more equitable access to education for Pennsylvania’s students. This Note suggests that, as a starting point, Pennsylvania must recognize education as a fundamental right. The legislature must also make a change in the way the state’s schools are funded, and it should not wait on the courts to force them into action. Other solutions will necessitate additional funding to be directed to the neediest populations and districts. Perhaps this is easier said than done, but the time to make effective changes has long since arrived.