Board Members Speak Out: Robin Roberts on the PA School Funding Trial

Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts

This is the first entry in our “Board Members Speak Out” series, collecting stories and testimonials from members of our board of directors about why our work matters to them. 

Robin Roberts is part of the leadership collective for Parents United for Public Education, a parent-led citywide organization in Philadelphia focused on engaging parents with the budget process in order to ensure a baseline level of resources, services, staffing provides every child in every school a stable, quality and nurturing school environment. She joined the board of directors for the Law Center in 2019. 

February 23, 2022–As witness testimony comes to a close in the Pennsylvania school funding trial, the depth of our state’s lack of adequate school funding is vast. When state legislators speak about public education funding, there is a tendency to picture urban districts. However, it has been clear that the inequity of our funding system is felt as much in rural districts, due to the inability to raise enough dollars out of low wealth areas.

It is very difficult to raise property taxes. Even in some wealthier areas, the constant pull of local tax increases frequently does not cover gaps caused by lack of state funding. We have heard from superintendents statewide that it is impossible to provide an adequate education to Pennsylvania’s students that lets them reach a proficient level. Facing a lack of resources, schools are unable to maintain effective class size and staffing, replace outdated materials, address unique educational needs, and update crumbling infrastructure.

There have been individual accounts from youth who experience inadequate public education daily due to the lack of state funding. The lack of adequate education has led to a lack of skilled adults able to take care of themselves, their families, and their communities. The state is derelict in its obligation to fund public education. Pennsylvania’s responsibility to public education has to be more than unlocking the school doors and turning on the lights.