PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMITTEE
|Committee Chair:||Hon. Kathy M. Manderino|
|Committee Members:||Gerald C. Grimaud, Esq.|
|Stephanie F. Latimore, Esq.|
|Rhoda Shear Neft, Esq.|
|Jettie D. Newkirk, Esq.|
|Rhodia D. Thomas, Esq.|
|Hon. John W. Thompson, Jr.|
|Lisa M. B. Woodburn, Esq.|
The Task of the Public Education Committee
The most specific language in the Pennsylvania Constitution relating to public education is contained in two sections of Article III: section 14, titled "Public School System" and Section 15, titled "Public School Money Not Available to Sectarian Schools." Each of these sections is exactly one sentence long, and state that "The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth (Sec.14)," and that "No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school (Sec. 15)."
The meaning of Section 14, in particular, is a perennial focus of public policy debates regarding the adequacy and equity of school funding in Pennsylvania. Additional information from recent seminal cases can be found in the Related Materials link below and will be helpful background information for those interested in how litigants have argued and the courts have interpreted this section.
Other sections of Article III touch directly or indirectly on the provision of public education in the Commonwealth. Section 20 deals with the classifications of school districts. Sections 29 and 30 address limitations and allowances of appropriations for education scholarships. Section 32 prohibits special statutory laws that can affect school districts. Sections 15, 29, and 30 should be reviewed by those contemplating the current legislative proposals for tuition vouchers for elementary and secondary education. Additionally, Article IV, Section 8(a) gives the Governor the power to appoint a Secretary of Education subject to the consent of two-thirds or a majority of the members elected to the Senate.
The subcommittee is mindful of the fact that any discussions about how the Commonwealth is fulfilling its obligation under Art. III, sec. 14 are intertwined with discussions about taxation, which also has roots in the interpretation and application of Article VIII (particularly, Section 1, uniformity clause) of the PA Constitution.
Issues to be Considered
While many issues can be examined around Pennsylvania's public education system, this sub-committee is interested in examining what changes, if any, should be recommended at a constitutional level, as compared to what statutory laws should be implemented or changed.
Although not meant to be an exclusive list, questions to be considered include:
- PA courts have consistently ruled that the maintenance of a thorough and efficient system of public education is a matter for the General Assembly and not the courts to decide. Should the language of the constitution be amended to change this ruling? Who is in the best position to decide these issues?
- Should the constitution state specifically who is responsible for the funding of public education or define specifically the duties of the state verses the local school districts? If so, how?
- Should the Constitution include specific language of a minimum state appropriation for public education (as it did in the 1874 version)? How much? By dollar amount or ratio?
- Should the Constitution say that each child has a right to a fair and adequate education opportunity (individual right vs. collective obligation)? Should it say anything about the children specifically as compared to about the system in general?
- Should language in the constitution address more specifically the issue of charter schools, educational tax credits, tuition vouchers, or other specific educational reform proposals?
- Should the constitution set up some sort of periodic review process required to examine the adequacy/equity/effectiveness of the public education system? If so, what should be done with the results?
- Should the constitution address specifically the subjects or content to be covered in a basic curriculum? If so, what suggestions for content would you make?
Written submissions to the Public Education Committee are welcomed. The Committee will gather as many written submissions as possible, and will carefully study and weigh all that are submitted as part of the process of examining public education process in the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Applications to present testimony at any Public Education committee hearing must be submitted prior to the hearings. If you wish to present your views in person at our Public Education Committee public hearing, please complete an Application to Appear form and transmit it, together with your written statement and any exhibits, by U.S. postal service and, if possible, by email to the CRC addresses below, so that it will be received by the due date listed in the schedule of meetings. The Application to Appear form can be downloaded from this CRC Public Education web page. Applications must be accompanied by a written submission covering the nature and scope of the testimony to be presented. Appearances to testify will be scheduled solely at the discretion of the Committee.
March 16, 2011 - Widener Law School, 10 a.m. - noon in room A180, 3800 Vartan Way, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,
May 5, 2011 - Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Wanamaker Building, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m., 100 Penn Square East, 10th Floor, Suite 1010, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
May 20, 2011 - State Capitol Complex, East Wing, room 8-E-B, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Additional dates and locations to be announced.
To contact the Public Education Committee, please send an email to email@example.com.
Send Applications to Appear and written statements to:
Lindsay A. Still
Pennsylvania Bar Association
100 South Street
P.O. Box 186
Harrisburg, PA 17108