May 19, 2022
PHILADELPHIA—For the second time, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania (AFTPA), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) filed an amicus "friend of the court" brief in support of the landmark school funding trial.
Since before the trial's inception and throughout the years of preparation and court hearings, our unions and members have been staunch advocates for the fair funding of public education. Indeed, collectively with the plaintiffs, lawyers, advocates, and so many partners, we have made the moral, and now clearly defined legal, case for our young people to receive a thorough and efficient public education.
Sixty-eight years ago on May 17th, the decision was rendered in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education SCOTUS case, and the highest court in the land ruled that separate could never be equal-- that segregated schools are unconstitutional. During the case, the AFT was the only labor union to file an amicus brief in support of this position.
And though we have made gains, we have so much further to go. Our children are still learning every day in schools that are decades older than the national average and in facilities that are not only physically inadequate, they are often toxic. Our young people are continually expected to do more with less-- to make do with devastating budget cuts, too few counselors, lack of school nurses, not enough support staff.
These arguments are laid bare in the cases set forth by the plaintiffs and their attorneys and in the collection of powerful amicus briefs siding with the plaintiffs. Still today, our young people, the majority of whom are Black and brown and the majority of whom are experiencing poverty, are shortchanged. Year after year, the state legislature has failed to deliver on its moral and constitutional obligation to provide our schools with adequate resources for our children to thrive.
Our newly filed amicus brief outlines the following case as a supplement to our previously filed brief:
The conclusion that Article III, Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution
creates a fundamental right to a quality public education is supported by the following
(1) the text of the provision
(2) the long history of including an education clause in the various iterations of the Pennsylvania Constitution
(3) Pennsylvania case law interpreting the provision, and the case law of other states with a similar provision
(4) the policy behind the adoption of the provision
It is abundantly clear that the Pennsylvania legislature continues to fail the children of the commonwealth each and every day. We joined a host of organization who submitted several filings this week in support of the plaintiffs.
Our second amicus brief is just one way that we will continue our efforts towards the real, structural change that our young people deserve.