PA Needs at Least $3.2 Billion more to Educate Students

Michael Churchill
On May 25, Pennsylvania joined 47 states in adopting a permanent formula for distributing state funding for education. In 2015, the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Comission created the formula, which recognizes that certain students need more resources, such as students living in poverty and students with limited English proficiency. It also takes into account district transportation needs and the presence of charter schools, and it outlines how much funding should come from the state and how much should come from local taxes.

While we are pleased the formula was made permanent, the formula is an empty promise if it is not fully funded. We used the formula to calculate that Pennsylvania schools need an investment of between $3.2 billion and $4.3 billion in new state money if students are going to have the resources they need to meet state-imposed academic standards. On our website, you can read our full report, learn about our calculations and download a spreadsheet that shows how much more money each district would have to spend on basic resources like teachers and textbooks if the formula was fully funded by the state.

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Hot of the Press: 2015 Annual Report

Annual Report
We recently published our 2015 Annual Report and 2016 Strategy. You can read our report online to learn about our accomplishments last year and our vision for this year. Or if you want a hard copy, you can sign up for our mailing list by emailing Michael Berton at You can connect with us in other ways too: follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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We Need Your Support

Michael MacDonald
You can help our clients, like Michael MacDonald
In order to live out our 2016 vision, we need your support. By making a donation of any amount - $25, $250, $2,500 or more - you will fund our staff to advocate and litigate for: 
-- sufficient state education funding
-- protection of people with criminal records and people with disabilities from employment discrimination (we helped Michael MacDonald, left, file a lawsuit against UPS which alleges the company illegally denied him accommodations he needs because he is deaf). 
-- basic updates to the state election system
-- improved access to health care for families with low incomes
-- increased options for good quality, affordable housing
-- support for historically disinvested communities so they have a voice in the future of their neighborhoods. 

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City Council Moves to Support Urban Agriculture in Philadelphia
La Finquita
La Finquita, one of our community gardens
We are pleased that City Council recently passed a resolution that calls for hearings on expanding urban agriculture in Philadelphia. Read the full resolution on our website, then head to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Newsworks/WHYY for more.

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We Need Your Advice

Calling all parents, caretakers, educators, social workers, financial planners and attorneys! We are exploring the possibility of developing a formal training institute to train people about the legal rights of children with disabilities. (Such an institute would go above and beyond our previous special education training programming.) Over the next few months, we will conduct phone interviews with potential audience members to determine if there is a market for such an institute. Interviews are conducted by an outside professional and take 15-30 minutes. If you are interested in participating, please email your name, phone number and affiliation to Barb Grimaldi at
2016 Annual Event: Of the People, By the People, For the People
Annual Event
Join us on Thursday, October 6 for our annual event to celebrate the core conviction of democracy: "of the people, by the people, for the people." We will honor Soil Generation (left), a black-led coalition of urban farmers and community gardeners; longtime board member Nick Chimicles (center) of Chimicles & Tikellis LLP; and Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP (right), our dedicated co-counsel in our case on behalf of children enrolled in Medicaid in Florida.

Supporting the U.S. Department of Education's Proposed Disproportionality Rule

Clients and Law Center attorneys following oral argument in one of our past cases about disproportionality
We provided comments on behalf of our clients, the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference and Concerned African American Parents, in reference to a proposed federal rule that seeks to standardize the way that states identify and address disproportionate treatment of students of color in state and local educational agencies. We have long worked on the issue of disproportionate placement of students into special education on the basis of race and ethnicity, and we enthusiastically support the full adoption of this proposed rule.

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Law Center Welcomes Two New Board Members

Board Members
Lisa Clark and Shannon McClure
We are pleased to welcome Lisa Clark, partner at Duane Morris LLP, and Shannon McClure, partner at Reed Smith LLP, to our Board of Directors. They were elected at our May board meeting. 

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Volunteer Spotlight: Joe James

Joe James (Center)
We are grateful for the support we receive from volunteers. Joe James is an attorney and longtime volunteer for the Law Center. He had this to say about working with us: "I came to volunteer for the Law Center's special education attorneys after attending their special education seminars. I was stunned by the impact the Law Center has nationally, from the work of a small group of unassuming, easy to approach, attorneys. And to think that they are all on the side of the most vulnerable, with the least resources-financial and otherwise-is beyond impressive. Whether it's the right to vote, use of vacant land to grow healthy food, adequate health care, right to education, fair housing or employment, the Law Center is fighting for human dignity!"

Thank you, Joe, for all of your help! Help us thank Joe by liking our post to him on Facebook.