Schools, Parents Sue Pennsylvania Over ‘Educational Caste System’
By Deirdre Fulton
Beaver County Blue via Common Dreams
Nov. 11, 2014 – Six school districts, seven parents, and two statewide associations sued  the commonwealth of Pennsylvania on Monday, claiming legislative leaders, state education officials, and the governor have failed to uphold the state’s constitutional obligation to provide a system of public education that gives all children the resources they need to meet state-imposed academic standards and "participate meaningfully in the economic, civic, and social life of their communities."
According to the complaint  (pdf), "state officials have adopted an irrational and inequitable school financing arrangement that drastically underfunds school districts across the Commonwealth and discriminates against children on the basis of the taxable property and household incomes in their districts."
"The disparity in education resources has created an educational caste system that the Commonwealth must eliminate." —Wade Henderson, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
As a result, the plaintiffs claim that hundreds of thousands of students throughout the state lack basic educational supports and services—functioning school libraries, up-to-date textbooks and curriculum materials, reasonable class sizes, guidance counselors, school nurses, vocational-ed and college prep classes, academic tutoring programs, and more.
"My child is in classes with too many other students and she has no access to tutoring services or support from paraprofessionals, but our elected officials still expect and require her to pass standardized tests," said  Jamela Millar, parent of 11-year-old K.M., a student in the William Penn School District. "How are kids supposed to pass the tests required to graduate high school, find a job and contribute to our economy if their schools are starving for resources?"
The state NAACP and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools joined the suit on behalf of their members. Urban, suburban, and rural districts are represented among the plaintiffs. While the state-run Philadelphia School District did not join the legal action, two Philadelphia parents are part of the suit and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers issued a statement in support on Monday.