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

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.

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Longwood Fire Company’s annual open house will be held for the first time under the stars on Thur...


  • Sherry Dinner

    10/23/2014
    07:00pm — 10:00pm

    The Yardley Inn is hosting an exclusive Sherry Dinner on Thursday, October 23, 2014. Enjoy a mea...


  • Zoo Yoga: OM’ing Otters

    10/25/2014
    09:15am — 10:15am

    (Ages 4-7 years old) Weekly Saturdays or Sundays, September-November (Classes held in the Educati...


  • Flying Colors Fine Artists Show and Sale

    10/25/2014
    10:00am — 05:00pm

    Flying Colors will host its Annual Art Show and Sale from October 24 to October 26, 2014 at The M...


  • Saturday Zoo Tales

    10/25/2014
    10:30am — 11:00am

    Join us for a fun, animal or nature themed story and a visit from one of our fun program animals!...


  • ChesLen Chase for Open Space

    10/25/2014
    11:00am

    Get ready to run for nature at Natural Lands Trust’s epic ChesLen Chase for Open Space, with 10K,...


  • Flying Colors Fine Artists Show and Sale

    10/26/2014
    10:00am — 05:00pm

    Flying Colors will host its Annual Art Show and Sale from October 24 to October 26, 2014 at The M...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    10/26/2014
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

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


  • NEWARK SYMPHONY CONCERT

    10/26/2014
    03:00pm — 05:00pm

    THE NEWARK SYMPHONY PRESENTS “Fall in Italy” Simeone Tartaglione, Music Director Sunday, Octobe...


Chester County High School Sports