Education Law Center
Newsletter | June 2015
ELC Praises New School Funding Formula But Urges Legislature to Fully Fund PA Schools to Meet Student Needs
This month, Pennsylvania took a groundbreaking step towards fair school funding and ensuring a quality education for every child. The state's bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission unanimously endorsed a proposal for a rigorous student-weighted funding system that recognizes the significant cost of educating vulnerable students.


We are pleased that the Basic Education Funding Commission's proposal uses student and district weights to distribute money. For example, by giving additional weight to students living in poverty -- especially those living in concentrated poverty -- the Commission has recognized the significant and unique challenges facing schools that serve our most vulnerable learners. But the Commission's proposal alone will not solve Pennsylvania's underlying funding inequalities. To truly achieve equity, the General Assembly must commit to investing significant new dollars in the basic education budget, beginning with restoring the major cuts that hit poor districts the hardest. Before fully implementing a formula, Pennsylvania must first fill the gaping holes in the budgets of our poorest districts. 


The Legislature's proposed education budget underfunds our schools and does not reflect a true commitment to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania's children receive a quality education. The Legislature's budget provides only a fraction of what many say is required to serve the documented needs of students. It is also less than 25 percent of the new funds recommended in the Governor's budget for basic education and only 20 percent of new funds recommended for special education.


Please contact your legislator to request that the Legislature work with the Governor on a bi-partisan budget that provides at least $400M in new basic education dollars for schools, restores the 2010 cuts, and adopts the new formula.

Read more about the Commission's report in coverage by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Washington Post. You can also read the Education Law Center's full statement here and op-ed on the underfunded budget here. Join the Campaign for Fair Education Funding here.

Team ELC in Harrisburg at the Rally for Fair Education Funding
Success! ELC Celebrates Client Graduations!
ELC works throughout the school year to ensure that students who face barriers to graduation are able to graduate. Our work helps students in the dependency system, English language learners, youth returning from juvenile justice placements, and students with disabilities convince school districts to give these students the support services and academic credits they need to receive diplomas. Our "graduates" this year are impressive!


For example, in March, Taylor learned that she could not graduate from her public charter school or attend college because the private school she had previously attended refused to release her education records due to outstanding tuition payments that her family could not afford. Without these records, Taylor's public charter school told her that she did not fulfill their graduation requirements. ELC intervened to enforce a law that prohibits a public school from refusing to allow a student to graduate when such records are withheld. ELC persuaded the school (with an enrollment of more than 10,000 students) to adopt a compliant policy that allows Taylor, and other students in her situation, to graduate rather than being punished for her family's financial hardship.


Caps off to Taylor, pictured here, who graduated on June 13th and will attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania this Fall.  We are proud of her and all of our great graduates!!


Deborah Gordon Klehr Announced as ELC Executive Director to Great Applause

In case you missed it, earlier this month, the Board of the Education Law Center named Deborah Gordon Klehr as Executive Director. Read the full announcement hereDeborah was recently named to Billy Penn's "Who's Next in the Law" list of 18 lawyers in Philadelphia making a difference in the legal community. Read the full list hereDeborah was also featured in a Legal Intelligencer article about public interest leadership changes. 


ELC Awarded Grant from American College of Trial Lawyers 

In early June, the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers awarded the Education Law Center a generous grant to support our "Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline" advocacy project. According to ACTL, ELC was chosen "from a wide field of applicants from throughout the United States and Canada who are seeking grants to promote programs that strive to provide needed legal assistance to unrepresented persons." Read the Foundation's press release here.  


ELC Lawsuit Enables Students from McKeesport to Attend College

ELC and our co-counsel at KidsVoice successfully fought to ensure that class members  in T.P. et al v. McKeesport School District are able to use their compensatory education funds to pay for college tuition. Our class members were students in foster care, many of whom were students with disabilities. This case was initially brought in 2012 on behalf of over 300 former and current residents of a group home for at-risk youth who had been denied access to neighborhood schools and forced to attend a limited, substandard educational program. The Court granted our recent motion and directed that funds be released to class members for payment of college tuition. Because of ELC's advocacy, six of our plaintiff class members attended college this school year using these critical resources! 


Pittsburgh Public Schools Approves Changes to Code of Conduct

This month, as a result of ELC's work with our strategic community partners, the Pittsburgh Public Schools approved a number of changes to their Code of Conduct. ELC has been working with the Local Task Force, Youth groups and other collaborative partners to support changes to the School Code that promote access and equity. These changes include more advanced training and revisions to discipline policy in an effort to reduce the number of students pushed out of school and into the judicial system. Read coverage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here


ELC to Honor Education Champions at 40th Anniversary Event in September

On September 16, 2015 at 5:30pm, the Education Law Center will hold its 40th Anniversary Celebration at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building in Philadelphia. This year, we'll be honoring Fred Magaziner, Catherine C. Carr, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Hear Me. Click on the image below to learn more about the event and purchase a ticket.  


If you're interested in sponsorship opportunities, please email [email protected] for more details.
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