HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Last week, Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed an amicus brief supporting petitioners in the education funding trial.
“An amicus brief is a friend of the court brief. It is folks that have not participated in the particular lawsuit, weighing in because they believe that there is a matter of significant importance being determined by a court,” said Maura McInerney, Legal Director at the Education Law Center, one of the two law centers representing petitioners in the trial.
A total of six amicus briefs were filed before the May 16 deadline.
“Amicus briefs are often extremely important, particularly in a case like this one, which has long-range implications for generations of students,” said McInerney. “I think what all the amicus briefs make clear is that it is best for the children of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for local communities, and our state as a whole to ensure that every student is college and career ready, is able to actively participate in meaningful work, engage in our democracy, and have all the opportunities that we want for our own children,” said McInerney.
In the brief, Shapiro said all students have the right to receive high quality, comprehensive and contemporary education, as required under the state Constitution.
“He is Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement officer. In fact, he is the person charged with enforcing our Constitution and our civil rights laws,” said McInerney.
Shapiro says more money needs to go through the fair funding formula, a formula that ensures school districts receive funding based on the needs of their students and their community.
“We need to make sure that we drive more dollars through what’s known as the fair funding formula, so school districts that are struggling are able to get more resources, to be able to hire more teachers, to be able to ensure that students have all of the necessary tools and technology to be able to learn,” said Shapiro in an interview with ErieNewsNow last month.
The Democratic nominee for governor says both rural and urban school districts are being left behind and much more investment is needed.
“There are too many schools in Pennsylvania that are being left behind, rural and urban,” said Shapiro. “There’s a lot of investment we need to make. We’re simply not investing enough in our schools today, and we’re not doing it in a smart way and in a wise way that actually meets the needs of students,” he added.
According to the Public Interest and Education Law Centers, amicus briefs will be followed by post-trial briefing on legal issues from both parties, with the final brief due July 15. Commonwealth Court will hold oral argument on the legal issues on July 26, but a decision could come several months afterwards.