These are Pa.’s most — and least — equitable school districts | Thursday Morning Coffee

August 6, 2020 7:08 am
Teacher and students in a classroom.

(Getty Images)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Across Pennsylvania, school officials are making critical decisions about how students, teachers, support staff and other critical education employees can return to the classroom. Some large districts, such as Philadelphia, are opting to start the school year entirely online. Others are opting for hybrid approaches that will combine online and in-person instruction.

And while schools have received some assistance to do this critical work, the financial health of each of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts continues to differ dramatically from county to county, or even from community to community.

A new study from the financial literacy site WalletHub takes stock of our current landscape, ranking the Keystone State’s most, and least, equitable school systemsWalletHub’s analysts reached their conclusions by just two metrics:  “average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil.”

Overall, Pennsylvania ranked 24th nationwide for the equity of its school systems, the analysis found. It concluded, in terms familiar to any public education advocate that “states that provide equitable funding to all school districts can help prevent poor students from having lower graduation rates, lower rates of pursuing higher education and smaller future incomes than their wealthy peers.”

Below, a look at the most and least equitable districts.

Source: WalletHub
Most Equitable Least Equitable
1. Trinity Area School District 490. Garnet Valley School District
2. Big Spring School District 491. Great Valley School District
3. Catasauqua School District 492. Upper St. Clair Township School District
4. Central York School District 493. Council Rock School District
5. Leechburg Area School District 494. Unionville Chadds Ford School District
6. Canon McMillan School District 495. Upper Dublin School District
7. Jefferson-Morgan School District 496. Radnor Township School District
8. Westmont Hilltop School District 497. Tredyffrin-Easttown School District
9. Wilson Area School District 498. New Hope Solebury School District
10. Littlestown Area School District 499. Lower Merion School District


So what to do about it? WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez has a few suggestions.

“To support underprivileged school districts during the pandemic, we should make sure that all schools have the resources to provide a comprehensive online education if necessary. Schools need to be able to lend devices and provide WiFi hotspots to students who don’t already have the capability to work remotely,” she said.

And elected officials should try to “ensure that all school districts have equitable funding that will help to level the playing field for students in less affluent communities,” as well as work to “improve graduation rates in previously underfunded districts … [leading] to greater rates of pursuing higher education and better future incomes,” she said.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Pennsylvania got $104M from the feds to expand internet access to students. Much of it is still unspentElizabeth Hardison reports.

Three days’ worth of legislative hearings on school reopening have yielded scant consensusHardison also reports. And teachers and administrative staff say they’re looking for stronger direction from the state.

Unless it gets a fresh infusion of cash, Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement will be in the red by September, and unable to support its operationsCassie Miller reports.

The NAACP’s national branch has condemned an anti-Semitic post by the president of the civil rights organization’s Philadelphia chapter, but has stopped short of calling for his resignation, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

From our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper, here’s an in-depth look at why the city’s police department continues to arrest Black Lives Matters protesters and organizers at a vigorous rate.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Aryanna Hunter takes a look at the candidacy of Democrat Kristy Gnibus, who’s challenging GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly in northwestern Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District. And two American University scholars explain why young Black voters in such key swing states in Pennsylvania cannot be counted on to vote for Democrats and Joe Biden — or even vote at all.

(Photo via pxHere)

Pennsylvania’s state universities are recruiting students of color, but fail to address issues of campus racism, Spotlight PA reports.
The Tribune-Review looks at the factors, including college parties, that are complicating Allegheny County’s efforts to fight COVID-19 infections.
PennLive’s John Baer has a few predictions for the coming election season.
Allentown City Council has reached a ‘moral reckoning’ over an ongoing censure dispute, the Morning Call reports.
Protesters marched through downtown Lancaster on Wednesday, calling attention to conditions at Lancaster County prison, LancasterOnline reports.
The York Daily Record tracks COVID-19 unemployment in its backyard.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:


View this post on Instagram


Quite possibly Philly’s most iconic graffiti collaboration of all time. #beurybuilding #boner4ever #northphilly

A post shared by Meggles Kelly (@phillyphotoculture) on

WHYY-FM takes a look at JudicialWatch’s effort to purge 800k voters from the state’s rolls. 
The state AFL-CIO passed over Rep. Summer Lee, D-Alleghenyfor its endorsement. WESA-FM explains what happened.
CNN has shifted Pennsylvania from ‘battleground’ to ‘leans Democratic’ status for the presidential election, PoliticsPA reports.
Eviction protections have expired in 24 states. looks at what’s next.
The U.S. Senate 
will stay in session next week to get a deal on a coronavirus relief package, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ‘softened’ on the overall spending target, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
The House Democratic Policy Committee meets at 10 a.m. in G50 Irvis.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to one of our fave running buddies, Robyn Katzman Bowman, a lawyer for the Department of Environmental Protection, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old favorite from English singer/songwriter Marty Willson-Piper that just fits the vibe this morning, it’s ‘Melody of the Rain.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
beat Pittsburgh 4-3 on Wednesday night, taking a series lead against the Pens.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.