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An Open Letter to Governor Josh Shapiro: Fully and Fairly Fund Our Public Schools

Over 350 parents, educators, taxpayers, and school board members from more than 40 districts across the state also remind the governor that privatization schemes like vouchers are part of the problem, not the solution.
Photo courtesy of Josh Shapiro Facebook page.

Dear Governor Shapiro,

We are school board members, parents, educators, and community members from all around Pennsylvania. We are from well-resourced and underfunded school districts; from rural, suburban, and urban ones. We share a common conviction: Every child in Pennsylvania deserves a high-quality education. We are convinced that the ONLY way to provide this is to fully and fairly fund our public schools. 

As you know, the Commonwealth Court ruled last February that the Administration and Legislature are failing to provide each student with a high-quality public education, violating the state constitution and undercutting our potential as a Commonwealth. We have watched closely, knowing your ability to listen to the people on the ground and creatively solve problems. We had hoped to see you forge a solution, addressing the court’s order to correct the deep disparities in our public education system. Instead, we saw a failure of leadership, from an underwhelming initial budget proposal to your abandonment of key campaign promises to “fully fund our schools”. Even as the budget process was finally completed at the end of 2023, we couldn’t help but notice that there was no funding for Level-Up or any other program that would address our massive, and unconstitutional, educational opportunity gap.

READ: Private School Vouchers ‘Undermine’ Pennsylvania’s Public Schools. Conservative Lobbyist Groups Want To Keep It That Way

We realize some want to direct education dollars toward programs that propose to “help students escape”’ from under-resourced schools. Whether we are discussing EITC or vouchers, let’s be clear: these programs fail to get the Commonwealth even one penny closer to meeting its constitutional obligation to Pennsylvania students. Privatization methods siphon funding away from public schools and into programs that have shown poor results – they have not meaningfully improved academic achievement or significantly reached underprivileged students. Yet even if these programs worked well, they would still fail the vast majority of Pennsylvania students because they do not and can not address the root problem.

The root problem is that Pennsylvania has been underinvesting in public schools for decades, with economically disadvantaged public schools seeing particular divestment. The importance of public schools must be acknowledged and prioritized. Public schools are where all students are guaranteed an education – full stop. It doesn’t matter whether students have a disability, what their family background is, what their religion is, or what mistakes they’ve made – public schools are morally and constitutionally obligated to provide a “thorough and efficient” education to every Pennsylvania child.

These schools are foundational to our children and our communities. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth’s decades of underfunding them has created a $6 billion gap between what our students need and what they get. This lack of resources is particularly concentrated in schools that educate students from lower-income families and students of color. These disparities hurt students in real time, as larger class sizes, fewer enrichment opportunities, and dangerous school facilities impact students’ current academic, physical, and mental well-being.  As you said in your brief in support of the plaintiffs in the school funding case, “The evidence before the Court shows that the resources of Petitioner schools and Philadelphia are inadequate… educational outcomes in those districts are both significantly worse than those in other districts across the Commonwealth and inadequate in their own right.” And these disparities cause lasting harm, translating into lower graduation rates and lower lifetime earnings. 

READ: Judge Orders Harrisburg to Fix Pennsylvania’s Unconstitutional K-12 Funding System. How Long Will It Take?

To address this core challenge of insufficient funding from the Commonwealth, we must commit to ensuring our public schools, especially the long-underfunded ones, have the resources they need to provide a quality education for their students.

These students – all of them – need someone to champion them. As Attorney General and as a candidate for Governor, you expressed support for full and fair public school funding. As Governor, those students need you to step up and lead, to address this foundational problem with decisiveness and determination. Our students need historic results, which ensure our public schools are fully equipped to provide every student with a thorough education that ensures they graduate ready for college, career, and civic life.

There is no greater challenge before our Commonwealth right now. But together, we really can do big things.  

Will you lead our Commonwealth in this great and worthy effort – providing every student with access to a high-quality, public education?

With Conviction and Hope,   

Laura Johnson, Pottstown School District

Dr. Karen Beck Pooley, Bethlehem Area School District

Jacquelyn Huff, State College Area School District

Monica D’Antonio, Norristown Area School District

Cynthia Wirth, Norristown Area School District 

Carol Vorchheimer, Philadelphia School District

Paul Castanzo. Pottstown Senior High

Sara Miller, Pottstown School District

Na’imah Rhodes, Pottstown School District

Christopher Jaramillo, Norristown Area School District

Alina Kitchell, Daniel Boone Area School District

Michael Faccinetto, Bethlehem Area School District 

Donna Smith, Bellefonte Area School District

Chris Petro, Pottstown School District

Donna Force, Perkiomen Valley School District 

Laura Frymoyer, Boyertown Area School District

Jeff Chebot, Cheltenham School District

Ann Davis, Upper Dublin School District

Robert Lieberman, Cheltenham School District

Len Zangwill, Abington School District 

Tod Weinstein, Jenkintown School District

Gillian Szymanski, Upper Dublin School District

Keri Marini, Pottstown School District

Shannon Patrick. Bethlehem Area School District

Jacqualyn James, Stroudsburg Area School District

Dr. Myra Forrest, Perkiomen Valley School District

Meredith Johnston, Pottstown School District

Paul Friel, Owen J Roberts School District

Amanda Figueroa, Pottstown School District

David Caldwell, Pottstown School District

Beth Reeves, School District of Lancaster

Dr. Trisha Moller, Bethlehem Area School District

Douglas Hill, School District of Lancaster
Rev. Faith D’Urbano, West Chester Area School District

Brenda Stover, Hempfield School District

Catherine Fox, Scranton School District 

Greg Newswanger, School District of Lancaster

Rev. Dr Marcia B. Bailey, Perkiomen School District

Rev. Sarah Strosahl-Kagi, Pottstown School District

Joshua Kagi, Pottstown School District

Greg Vennemann, Bethlehem Area School District

Rev. Jesse North, Manheim Township School District

Jeanette Trefny, Warwick School District

Scott Trefny, Warwick School District

Beth Sviben, Central Dauphin School District 

Dr. Meredith Hegg, Upper Darby School District 

Don Fields Upper Darby School District 

Jeanne Petrosky, Pottstown School District

Leon Weber, Manheim Township School District

Tara Yanni, Scranton School District

Gayle Hall, Pottstown School District

Cory Hulsizer, Camp Hill School District

John W. Eby, Manheim Township

Kenneth J Langeman, Manheim Township

Bonita Buonocore, North Penn School district             

Jeanette Beck, Ephrata Area School District

Rev. Rachael Lawrence, PhD, Norristown Area School District.    

Edward Buonocore, MD, North Penn School district 

Lawrence A. Serlin, Haverford Township School District.              

Alex Buonocore, North Penn School District.                             

Thomas Buonocore, Wissahickon School District 

Stephen J Rodriguez, Pottstown School District

Ingrid Parker, Norristown Area School District  

Janet Lawrence-Nelson, Owen J Roberts School District

Julianne Jayson, Rose Tree Media School District

Katie German, Pottstown School District

Elizabeth Caprioli, Pocono Mt. School District

Janet Weidensaul, Stroudsburg School District

Rosalind Ernest, Ephrata Area School District

Sara Evans, Owen J Roberts School District

Abby Deardorff, Spring-Ford Area School District 

Tessi Ruiz, Norristown Area School District

Nikki Huggan, Bangor Area School District 

Sharon Mauch, Norristown Area School District 

Bonnie Wrazien, Stroudsburg School District

Nathan Hall, Pottstown School District

Beth Mason, Pottstown School District

Megan Angelo, Bethlehem Area School District

Merlyn Clarke, Stroudsburg School District 

Marty Kelley, School District of Lancaster 

David Laky, Spring-Ford Area School District

Joseline Kraemer, Stroudsburg Area School District
Kathleen Lindman, Warwick School District 

Michaela Johnson, Pottstown School District

Larry Stephenson, Conestoga Valley School District

Susan DeJarnatt, Philadelphia School District

Rev Patricia H Lawrence, Norristown Area School District

Kathleen Butts, School District of Philadelphia

Michelle Dech, Reading Area School District

Beth Chaville-Fuller, Owen J. Roberts School District

Zachary J.  Epps, Cheltenham School District

Phylicia Epps, Cheltenham School District

Athena Procsal, Pottstown School District

Donna Singer, Pottstown School District

John Bermingham, Bangor Area School District

Laura Bermingham, Bangor Area School District

Dorothy Viglione, Allentown School District

Brenda Morales, School District of Lancaster

Ned Matalia, North Penn School District

Jennifer Lowman, Cheltenham School District

Alex Battaglia, School District of Philadelphia

Vivien Kane, Wissahickon School District 

Bridget Volinskie, Pottstown School District

Rachel Mitchell, Upper Darby School District

Beth Logue, School District of Philadelphia 

Catya Harrold, Pottsgrove School District 

Susan Knoll, School District of Lancaster 

Kait Linton, Hempfield School District
Kelsey Knowles, Pottstown School District

Katie Coolong, Pottstown School District

Christina Lepkowski, Pottstown School District

Sadira Hueber, Pottstown School District

Sarah Clark, Pottstown School District

Karen Neitz, Pottstown School District

Rachel Bedard, Hempfield School District

Brittney Williams, Upper Darby School District, School District of Philadelphia

Carley Tkaczuk, School District of Lancaster 

Nick Rotoli, Owen J Roberts School District

Desiree’ Murphy Morrissey, Upper Darby School District

Theresa Westwood, Spring-Ford Area School District 

Gwen Shapiro, Lower Merion School District

Jane Gruen, Pottstown School District

Barbara Watts, Manheim Township School District
Susan Long, Hempfield School District

Michael Berardi, Lower Moreland School District

Jill Houseal, Norristown Area School District 

Howard Brown, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

Timothy Runkle, Elizabethtown Area School District

Kimberly White, Pottstown School District

Pat Ayers, Warwick School District

John D. Snyder, Esq., Great Valley School District

Mary Gallimore Hempfield School District 

Andrea Moselle, School District of Philadelphia

Elliott Seif, Bucks County Intermediate Unit

Coleman Poses, School District of Philadelphia

Joan Lukas,  School District of Philadelphia

Judy Lechner Brody, Haverford School District

David Mosenkis, School District of Philadelphia

Seamus Kearney, School District of Philadelphia

Larry Feinberg, School District of Haverford Township

Trenita Lindsay,  Pottstown School District 

Dr. Karalyn McGrorty Derstine, North Penn School District 

Jan Herzog, Southern Lehigh School District

Cathy Skitko, Pottstown School District 

Amy Auwaerter, Governor Mifflin School District

Emily Schenkel, Bethlehem Area School District

Cynthia Whitley, Norristown Area School District

Maryann Buch Snyder, Southern Lehigh School District

Julie Thomases, Allentown School District

Susan Thompson, Philadelphia School District

Dr. Damary Bonilla-Rodriguez, East Stroudsburg Area School District 

Debra Brauner, Upper Perkiomen School District

Alan Snyder, Southern Lehigh School District

Patty Carlis, Southern Lehigh School District

Ian Carlis, Southern Lehigh School District

Rick Kinder, Warwick School District

Susan Newell, Warwick School District

Jayme Curet, Bethlehem Area School District

Christian Curet, Bethlehem Area School District

Rabbi George Stern, School District of Philadelphia

Karen Scher, School District of Philadelphia

Julie Kimsey-Carroll, Haverford Township School District

Charles W Best, Warwick District

Bob Bueding-Philadelphia school district

John B. Kelly, III, School District of Philadelphia

Louise Best, Warwick School District 

Kathy Schoenberger, Warwick School District

John David Bowman, Warwick School District

Erin DeRosa, Stroudsburg Area School District

Susan Burrell. Warwick School District

Fran Hirschman, Warwick School District.

Joanne Robb, Warwick School District. 

Christopher D. Mano, Archdiocese of Philadelphia 

Roseann Liu, School District of Philadelphia

Ann Friedenheim-Csandl, East Penn School District

John J Armato, Pottstown School District Board Member 

Nick Sanders, School District of Philadelphia

Terrance Henderson, Manheim Township School District 

Susan Royer, Upper Perkiomen School District

Katina Bearden, Pottstown School District 

Hugh Taft-Morales,  School District of Philadelphia

Bob Bueding, School District of Philadelphia

Leigh Buchanan, School District of Philadelphia

Gary King, School District of Philadelphia

Naomi Walinsky-King, School District of Philadelphia

Judith C Hurlbut   Warwick School District

Marta Guttenberg, School District of Philadelphia

Lewis C. Ayers, Warwick School District

Rah Noonan-Ngwane, School District of Philadelphia

Katharine Daley, School District of Philadelphia

Barbara Silbert, Springfield Twp (Montco) School District

Irma Kelly, Warwick School District

Stan Horwitz, School District of Philadelphia

Jennifer Wilson, Hatboro-Horsham School District

Daniel Guet, School District of Philadelphia

Janet Chalfant, Warwick School District

David Chalfant, Warwick School District

Rev. Priscilla Tennant, Philadelphia School District 

Allison Collins, Pottstown School District 

Dorothea Leicher Troy Area School District 

Wayne Martin, Penn Manor School District

Pam Hagen, Warwick School District

Patti Lehman, Warwick School District

Karen Clemente, Upper Perkiomen School District

Hannah Ingebretson, School District of Philadelphia

Carol Carts, Coudersport Area School District 

Michael Kelly, Warwick School District

Shirley Showalter, Warwick School District

Stuart Showalter, Warwick School District

Twila Miller, Warwick School District

Stephen Kelly, Lower Moreland Township School District

Sharon Wallis, School District of Philadelphia

Deborah Hall, Warwick School District

James C. Martin Warwick School District

Jennifer Martin Warwick School District

Jan Fisher Warwick School District

Gena Groves, Upper Merion Area School District 

David Fisher Warwick School District

Barbara A. Watts, Manheim Township School District

Ruth Dubinsky, Colonial School District

Kimberly Glenn, Upper Darby School District 

Sandra Miller, Saucon Valley School District

M. Rayah Levy, Bethlehem Area School District

Sharyn Bowman, Warwick School District

Nancy Borremans, School District of Lancaster

Fatim Byrd, School District of Philadelphia 

Judith Gemmell Warwick School District

Mary Lilja, Coudersport Area School District

Gayle T. Stauffer, Warwick School District

Elaine Fulmer, Warwick School District

Tom Fulmer, Warwick School District

Hillary Fletcher, Rose Tree Media School District

Art Levinowitz, Upper Dublin School District

Cameron Stevens, Rose Tree Media School District

Sherry Groff, School District of Lancaster

Rhoda Toperzer, School District of Philadelphia

Joy Bergey, School District of Springfield Township

Diane Pierce Philadelphia School District 

Carol Duncan Philadelphia School District

Elizabeth Eagles, Springfield Township School District

Burgandy Holiday, Philadelphia School District

Sandra Duncan, Columbia Borough School District

Donald Lindman, Warwick School District

Merritt Andruss, Springfield School District

Randy Libros, Cheltenham School District

Rev. Kipp Gilmore-Clough, Philadelphia School District

Jessica Tkacs Way, Cheltenham School District

Amparo Hoard, Cheltenham School District

Jacob Javier, Cheltenham School District

Nick Bernardini, School District of Philadelphia

Katrina Clark, School District of Philadelphia

Honey Polis Bodine, School District of Philadelphia

Roger Bodine, School District of Philadelphia

Thomas Quinn, School District of Philadelphia

Lisa Hantman, School District of Philadelphia

Katherine Imperato, School District of Philadelphia

Kristin R. Luebbert, School District of Philadelphia

Regina B. Holley, PhD, Pittsburgh Public Schools

Avery Finch, Philadelphia

John Barnett, Owen J. Roberts School District

Susan Lawrence, Pottstown School District 

Dennis L Landon, Daniel Boone School District

Beth Yoder, Pottstown School District

Adam Roth, Pottstown School District

Kathryn Frasch, Pottstown School District

Theresa Dundon, Pottstown School District

Kelly Leibold, Pottstown School District

Tricia Mitchell, Pottstown School District 

Lori Hoshaw, Pottstown School District

Ashlee Raub-Rodriguez, Pottstown & Kutztown School District

Christine Williams, Boyertown School District

Lisa Stephenson-Horne, Pottstown School District, Owen J Roberts School District

Raymond M Rose, Pottstown School District

Kimberly Hocker, Warwick School District 

Sally Foose, Pottstown School District

Nick Fox, Pottstown School District

Amber Elsner, Pottstown School District

Mara Imms, School District of Philadelphia

Sophie Greer, Haverford Township School District

Karel Kilimnik, School District of Philadelphia

Noga Newberg, School District of Philadelphia 

Michele Ayers, Hempfield School District 

Marcy Morgan, School District of Philadelphia

Ana Marjanovic-Shane District of Philadelphia

Sigal Felber, School District of Philadelphia 

Bevin Journey, School by District of Philadelphia

Sharon Krause, School District of Philadelphia 

Andrea Richards, School District of Philadelphia

Janet Clark, Philadelphia School District

Monique McCoy, Philadelphia School District

Catherine Jacobsen, Philadelphia School District

Karrianne Biscorner, School District of Philadelphia

Silvia Diaz, School District of Philadelphia 

Carla Weidman, Warwick School District

Tamar Magdovitz, School District of Philadelphia

Margaret Thorn, Warwick School District

Art Thorn, Warwick School District

Nicole Chambers, School District of Philadelphia 

Mary Elizabeth Talian, School District of Philadelphia

Karla Holland-Moritz, School District of Philadelphia

Miriam Burke, Hempfield School District 

Beth Warms, Upper Dublin School District 

Joel Gerstl, School District of Philadelphia

Lawrence Schofer, School District of Philadelphia 

Angelique Hinton, Norristown Area School District

John D. Horkel, School District of Philadelphia

Larissa Pahomov, School District of Philadelphia

Terry Waslow Abington Township School District

Jessica Morris-Horowitz, School District of Philadelphia

Sharon Marino, Colonial School District

Elizabeth Wilbert, School District of Philadelphia 

Clarice Brazas, School District of Philadelphia

Shana Caplan, School District of Philadelphia

Hannah O’Brien, School District of Philadelphia

Elizabeth Alston, Methacton School District

Pooja Chanda, Methacton School District

Carol Minnich, Warwick School District

Stephanie Barbour Warwick School District 

Richard Barbour Warwick School District 

Louise Sitler Warwick School District

Blithe Riley, School District of Philadelphia

Rebecca Boyer, Lampeter-Strasburg School District

D. Michael Byler, Warwick School District

Laura Boll, Manheim Township 

Kathleen Schmick, Warwick School District

Jane Weigel Lampeter, Strasburg and SDOL

Darcy Miller, Elizabethtown Area School District 

Jean Lynette Meck, Warwick School District

Susan E King, Lancaster City School District

Glenn P. Mersky, Methacton School District

Rebecca VanderMeulen, Downingtown Area School District / Upper Darby School District 

Karleen Krenicky, Rose Tree Media School District

Ken Dinitz, Rose Tree Media School District

Sandy Lieberman, Cheltenham School District

Dr. Janet Nelson, Owen J Roberts School District

Rev. Urbane Peachey, Manheim Twp. School District

Zita Angelo, Donegal School District 

Suzanne Blanc, School District of Philadelphia

Candi Haas-Simmons, Pottstown School District 

Luke Johnson, Pottstown School District 

Laura Hazeltine, Daniel Boone Area School District

Karen Pidcock-Lester,  Pottstown/Pottsgrove School Districts

Rich Davis, North Penn School District

Deborah Harris, North Penn School District

Beth Margolis, Upper Dublin School District

Kimberly Byrd, The School District of Philadelphia

Jed Margolis, Upper Dublin School District

Chris Smart, Wissahickon School District

Jennifer Sokol, Wissahickon School District

Erin Hirsh, Cheltenham School District

Alex Malek, Springfield School District (Montgomery County)

Melissa Hecht, Upper Dublin School District

Wendy Elliott-Vandivier, Philadelphia School District

John Elliott-Vandivier, Philadelphia School District

Nancy Schek, Cheltenham School District

Sara Kehs, Spring-Ford Area School District

Richard L. Ayers, State College Area School District

Jonathan Sauder, Hempfield School District

Robert B Weinstock-Collins, School District of Lancaster

Carter Lester, Pottsgrove School DistrictJoseph Meloche, Rose Tree Media School District

Daniel Erdman, School District of Lancaster

Gary Sieling, Wissahickon School District

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