During the gubernatorial campaign, advocates emphasized that Pennsylvania is one of the few states that has no education funding formula.
During the gubernatorial campaign, advocates emphasized that Pennsylvania is one of the few states that has no education funding formula. In other words, it has no rational, predictable, enrollment-based system for distributing state school aid.
The process now in place is based on an accumulation of old formulas and ad hoc decisions made over decades.
And a new analysis shows in dramatic fashion that this system, now under review by a special legislative commission, has a discriminatory impact based on race.
A Philadelphia-based data analyst, David Mosenkis of Mount Airy, has determined that districts with similar rates of poverty that are almost all White get higher per-pupil amounts of basic education funding than districts that are more racially diverse.
Mosenkis, a member of Germantown Jewish Center and a lay leader with the faith-based community organizing group POWER, set out to determine whether the amount of funding a district gets correlates with its racial composition. He said the findings were striking.
“If you take basic funding as a simple measure, and control for one factor such as poverty, you expect the points to be scattered,” he said. “You would expect that race or color of the students shouldn’t make more of a difference than, say, height or weight. But to see such a clear delineation based on race tells me that the current funding is biased based on this factor.”
Mosenkis followed a simple statistical construct by using a linear formula showing how much a district should get per student based on its poverty rate.