Pennsylvania System for Distributing State Education Aid Among the Most Regressive in Nation

PA education funding
Image via Paradox 56 at Creative Commons.

Pennsylvania state spending on K-12 public education is among the lowest in the nation. Worse, its distribution has been ranked one of the most regressive, writes Dale Mezzacappa for WHYY.

The Keystone State spent $26.5 billion on K-12 education in 2012, which put it in sixth place, based on total spending amount. Per student, Pennsylvania spent $13,653 that same year, placing 13th nationwide.

The K-12 education system is funded 53 percent through local sources, 36 percent by the state, and 11 percent from the federal government.

Pennsylvania ranked only No. 44 in the percentage share of education costs it covers. Its 36 percent is significantly under the national average of 45 percent.

Consequently, most school districts rely primarily on local funding, which creates educational disparities. The fluctuations stem from wide disparities in wealth distributions across local districts.

In addition, most of the state funding is distributed through the basic education aid line. These disbursements are allocated unpredictably, benefiting only certain districts.

As a result, the Keystone State ranked toward the bottom for all measures of funding equity in Education Week’s 2012-13 Quality Counts report.

Read more about public school spending at WHYY.

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