In Council News, Helen Gym by PHL Council

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PHILADELPHIA — Today, Councilmember Helen Gym released the following statement on the conclusion of the fair funding education trial in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court:

“Over the course of three months and dozens of witnesses, the fair funding trial laid bare the stark disparities in classrooms across our Commonwealth. Overcrowded classrooms and far too few teachers, with outdated resources and dilapidated facilities. While our Constitution guarantees each and every student the right to a high quality education, for generations of Pennsylvania children, that has never been the reality.

“What also became clear is that our state legislature makes an intentional decision every year to underfund the schools which need the most help. The inadequate and inequitable funding of public schools in Pennsylvania is by deliberate design. Its outcome is inhumane, and its intent is indefensible.

“As the mom of three children who attended Philadelphia public schools over the last two decades, I was deeply moved by much of the testimony. This trial was not a matter of court briefs and legal argument; we lived its harsh reality. Millions of children and families, including my own, bear the consequences of Pennsylvania’s dramatic and unconstitutional underfunding of our schools.

“At the same time, this inequality gave rise to a movement unlike anything this Commonwealth has ever seen — a coalition of parents and students and educators who threw out a governor who took a billion dollars out of the state education budget, dismantled state takeover bodies that shrunk resources and expanded privatization, and elected into office a new generation of leaders invested in public schools and public institutions. It was this coalition that won our day in Commonwealth Court, and which has for decades carried the belief that our children deserved so much better.

“I am proud to have filed a supporting brief in the effort that led to the Supreme Court re-opening the courthouse doors to this trial in 2017. I want to acknowledge the tremendous work of our attorneys, the Public Interest Law Center, the Education Law Center – PA, and O’Melveny and Myers, who for the last four months laid out in painstaking detail the economic, moral, and constitutional failure carried out by this state legislature in countless classrooms. Their legal brilliance is matched only by their fervent commitment to equity and justice for Pennsylvania’s children – in stark contrast to the state legislature.

“This trial is a resounding call to end the grotesque disparities that deny specific children their chance to unlock their fullest potential. While this trial may have reached its close, our fight for fair funding will not stop until every student in every school district in Pennsylvania has the well-resourced, well-staffed schools they rightfully deserve.

“On Tuesday at 3 p.m., I’ll join Councilmember Brooks,  students, lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center, and education advocates from Children First and across our city and state on 3:00 PM Tuesday at City Hall — if you’re in the fight for education justice, join us there.”


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