WHEREAS, access to quality education is vital to the lives of Pennsylvania's students, enhancing their long-term economic well-being and their ability to care for their families; and

WHEREAS, quality education is vital to Pennsylvania's economy, enhancing its ability to attract and retain businesses by creating a well-educated work force; and

WHEREAS, communities unable to offer quality education limit their students'’ opportunities to attend college and to compete in the job market, and businesses in those communities find it difficult to obtain qualified employees; and

WHEREAS, all persons throughout Pennsylvania are affected by the inability of numerous school districts across the Commonwealth to be able to afford quality education and the inability of thousands of their students to become proficient in the skills necessary to compete successfully in the global economy; and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania ranks as the state with the greatest disparities in funding between its highest and lowest spending school districts in the nation according to the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Secretary of Education, with the amount spent on each student in Pennsylvania's poorest school districts being 33 percent less than the amount spent on each student in Pennsylvania's wealthier districts; and

WHEREAS, these gaps prevent students in these poorer districts across Pennsylvania from obtaining the small class sizes, sufficient books, materials and up to date science equipment, adequately supported teachers, Advanced Placement classes, and well-maintained buildings necessary for academic success that are available in wealthier districts; and

WHEREAS, the thorough and efficient system of public education required by the Pennsylvania Constitution cannot exist with such inadequate support and gross disparities in opportunities for all students to meet state standards; and

WHEREAS, the Basic Education Funding Commission was established by Act 51 of 2014 to review and make recommendations related to basic education funding in Pennsylvania; and

WHEREAS, after conducting 15 hearings and receiving testimony from 110 individuals, including superintendents, school board presidents, business leaders, representatives on nonprofit organizations and parents, the Basic Education Funding Commission has issued its Report, attached hereto, proposing a school funding formula that would address these issues and more equitably distribute aid to Pennsylvania's public school districts by considering current enrollment, poverty levels, charter school costs, number of English language learners, geographic size, tax effort and the ability to fund schools with local taxes; and

WHEREAS, nearly $1 billion was cut from basic education funding in Pennsylvania in recent years, with Philadelphia's public schools bearing a disproportionate share of those cuts; and

WHEREAS, an immediate increase in funding for education of at least $410 million is critical to restoring past funding cuts, a number reasonably calculated to both restore part of the lost funding and provide an appropriate baseline for implementation of the proposed funding formula of the Basic Education Funding Commission.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Governor and the General Assembly to pass a budget that includes a significant new investment in basic education funding in the 2015-16 budget, with at least $410 million in new dollars to help restore past funding cuts, targeted at bringing districts back to the 2010 funding level as a base year, and thereafter begin implementation of the Basic Education Funding Commission formula.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association is authorized to take whatever steps are necessary to effectuate this resolution.

ADOPTED: September 21, 2015