Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

PA Education Funding Inequities / Cheyney University President

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 22, 2017 4:18 AM
money and schools on chalk board 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, March 22, 2017:

In 2015, federal data showed that Pennsylvania had the most inequitable funding for its schools than any state in the country.  That data indicated that school districts with the highest poverty rates receive one-third fewer state and local tax dollars.  That's based on a per-student basis.

The Pennsylvania Constitution states "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."  That clause has been interpreted as all Pennsylvania students have the right to a quality, equal education.

State lawmakers from both political parties have recognized there's a funding disparity.  A new funding formula has been implemented that provides money to schools based on factors like poverty, the number of students who don't speak English as their primary language and tax resources.  However, the new formula only applies to increases in funding at this time and will take years to be felt across the state.


John Callahan - Assistant Executive Director for Public Policy, Pennsylvania School Boards Association / Donna Cooper - Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth / Kevin McCorry - Senior Education Writer, WHYY.

Education funding is the topic of Wednesday's Smart Talk.  Our guests are Donna Cooper, the Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, John Callahan, the Assistant Executive Director for Public Policy with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and Kevin McCorry, Keystone Crossroads reporter stationed at WHYY in Philadelphia.

Keystone Crossroads: Education Equity is a TV program that examined education funding in Pennsylvania.  It airs Thursday night at 8 on WITF-TV.

Also on Wednesday's program is Cheyney University President Dr. Frank Pogue. 

Cheyney is the nation's first black college and the only predominately African-American institution in the 14-member Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.


Dr. Frank G. Pogue - President, Cheyney University

Cheyney has faced fiscal and enrollment challenges in recent years.  With that in mind, we'll take with Dr. Pogue about the fiancial issues PSSHE faces.


on school funding:

- It seems that discussions about school funding always start with the sentence "There has been a massive increase in the costs of education." The discussion always proceeds "How can we pay for this?" but never with "Why has the cost increased ?" or "How can we keep costs down?"       - Joe

- why is it that it seems that all school districts have mushroomed in top level administrators.  i am employed by a local city school district. (SDOL)

when i started there the administration offices took up 2/3 of the first floor of an elementary school.  then they moved to their own building, out grew it and now takes up TWO FLOORS  of a four story school.  why as funding becomes harder for districts has administration positions exploded in size.                                                - Thomas, Manheim Township

- On the spending side the discusion compares spending per pupil across the Commonwealth.  How about the media comparing on the funding side how much households in towns across the commonwealth are paying?  THIS is where the inequity exist. If someone in Reading or Harrisburg wants to have schools similar to some other school, the parents need to pony up a similar effort ($$).                                       - Michael

-  I really appreciate the insights from the panel this morning, but I never hear solutions. As a former school board member and long-time student of education funding in Pennsylvania, I wonder if you could ask them to describe the funding system that they might design from scratch and how to transition from where we are to the "ideal" system.       - Joel, York

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