Skip to main content

Special education report is a good first step, but education in PA needs more

12/18/2013 10:47AM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print


By Reps. Mike Sturla, Jim Roebuck, Mark Longietti

Nearly 270,000 Pennsylvania children -- one out of every 6.5 students – receive special education services in our public schools. While the number has steadily grown over the years, funding for special education has been stagnant since 2009. Many school districts around the state struggle to deliver the services that they’re mandated by law to provide. 

The shortfall is partly due to an antiquated state funding formula, which assumes that a blanket 16 percent of students – the statewide average -- require special education programs regardless of the actual number. In reality the percentage of special education students served in school districts across the state ranges from 8 percent to 26 percent.

Recently, the Special Education Funding Commission, established under Act 3 of 2013 and consisting of lawmakers and officials from the governor’s administration, released a report with recommendations to address the chronic underfunding of special education, including instituting a new formula to distribute funds.

By adequately investing in special education we aid our students in meeting academic standards, as well as transitioning into higher education, employment, independent living and community participation. The recommendations in the commission’s report provide a blueprint on ways to address the challenge of more equitably funding special education. 

In reality, inequitable, and in many cases insufficient funding, for special education is just a symptom of a larger ailment in securing adequate funding for all education in the commonwealth. 

The reductions in education dollars over the past three budget cycles have already begun to have a negative impact on test scores, and tuition at our universities has surged. Every dollar we cut from education has an impact on a child somewhere: whether it’s in Philadelphia, where at one point this fall there was one guidance counselor serving 3,700 students; or the dozens of jobs cut from Mercer County’s school districts; or, the program cuts due to fewer Accountability Block Grants in Lancaster. 

The same inequity and inefficiency that plagues special education funding is a problem across the board with the state education budget, where wealthier districts often receive smaller per-pupil cuts than the painful, damaging cuts endured by districts in lower-income neighborhoods. 

The Special Education Funding Commission was a truly bipartisan effort aimed at benefiting Pennsylvania students. We hope that the same spirit of bipartisanship sweeps through the legislature in the upcoming year’s budget, and that we invest in all of Pennsylvania’s students regardless of their special needs or their zip code. 


Mike Sturla, Jim Roebuck, and Mark Longietti are all state representatives.



special education budget state representative mike sturla state representative jim roebuck state representative mark longietti funding special education funding commission


You might also like

Four Years of Corbett/Lawrence budgets: A failed record

Four Years of Corbett/Lawrence budgets: A failed record

Public education advocates urge state lawmakers to pass severance tax

More than a third of districts plan to cut, reduce or charge students fees to participate in 220 extracurricular and sports programs.

  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/02/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/02/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/03/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Zen Group Startup

    09/03/2014
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Find out for yourself why people have respected Zen for thousands of years. One hour introductio...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/03/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/04/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/04/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/05/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • SCCCC Business & Family Friendly Event

    09/05/2014
    04:00pm — 08:00pm

    Please visit www.scccc.com for more information.


  • "Trees" Art Exhibit and Reception

    09/05/2014
    06:00pm — 09:00pm

    Join us for the First Friday Art Stroll in Kennett Square, September 5th, 6-9 pm, watch the Mushr...


  • "Trees" Art Exhibit and Reception

    09/05/2014
    06:00pm — 09:00pm

    Join us for the First Friday Art Stroll in Kennett Square, September 5th, 6-9 pm, watch the Mushr...


  • "Trees" Art Exhibit and Reception

    09/05/2014
    06:00pm — 09:00pm

    Join us for the First Friday Art Stroll in Kennett Square, September 5th, 6-9 pm, watch the Mushr...


  • MUSHROOM FESTIVAL

    09/05/2014
    06:00pm

    For 28 years the Festival stretches more than half a mile and features culinary events, growing e...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/05/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/06/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/06/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/07/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Grandparents Day

    09/07/2014
    10:00am — 05:30pm

    Grandmothers, bubbies*, and nanas! Grandfathers, zadies*, and pops! Grab your grandkids for a day...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    09/07/2014
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/07/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/08/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Affordable Pet Vaccine Clinic

    09/08/2014
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    AFFORDABLE PET VACCINE CLINIC Low cost vet services for cats & dogs- free physical exam with v...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/08/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/02/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/02/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/03/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Zen Group Startup

    09/03/2014
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Find out for yourself why people have respected Zen for thousands of years. One hour introductio...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/03/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/04/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/04/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/05/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


Chester County High School Sports