Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Faith leaders pray, fast for more than Wolf's $400M proposed increase for schools

Despite Gov. Tom Wolf's proposal to inject $400 million more into direct support for school districts next year to a historic high of $6.1 billion, faith leaders from across Pennsylvania say that is not enough to erase the racial inequities that exist in the way public schools are funded.

Gathering on Monday in the Capitol Rotunda, they prayed, launched a fast, and blew a shofar, an instrument used for Jewish religious purposes, to serve as a wake-up call for legislators and Wolf about the need for a more equitable and robust funding system to ensure that children across the state have access to a quality education.

Following the sounding of the horn that disrupted a House budget hearing in an adjacent room, The Rev. Gregory Edwards of Allentown called for an end to "the promotion of practice of educational apartheid" in Pennsylvania that results in racial and economic inequities in school funding.

Standing before the assembly of about 50 people mostly from Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, he said Pennsylvania's politicians have prioritized tax cuts for the wealthy and permitted corporations to "shirk their reasonable responsibilities" while children's education, particularly in its urban schools, have suffered.

"We gather here in this place ... to push back so our children can push forward," Edwards said.

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