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June 29, 2023

In the wake of the SCOTUS ruling deeming affirmative action unconstitutional, and amidst the backdrop of state budget negotiations and decades-long underfunding of public schools, and this weekend's Moms for Liberty summit in Philadelphia, PFT President Jerry Jordan issued the following statement:

PHILADELPHIA--"I was profoundly struck by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's stirring dissent in today's SCOTUS decision (which reversed years of precedent and a modicum of progress towards racial justice), in which she wrote in part'With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces "colorblindness for all" by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.'

"This deeply disturbing ruling upends decades of precedent that has moved us towards racial justice--a precedent that helped level the playing field ever so slightly for Black and Latino students, that moved us towards a more equitable society. A precedent that came nowhere near true equity in our society, but a precedent that nonetheless was a major stepping stone in our ongoing quest for justice. 

"I can't help but reflect on this ruling against the backdrop of many of the local and national issues we are navigating today. Just four months ago, in a landmark ruling in Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court, Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer ruled with finality that the way our Commonwealth funds public education is inequitable. In fact, it violates the Commonwealth's constitutional obligation to provide a 'thorough and efficient' system of public education for every child. The inherent inequity in our education system is rooted in racism, and it is rooted in the deep-seated belief by some that marginalized children--primarily Black and brown youth and youth experiencing poverty--do not deserve the resources that are considered non-negotiable in wealthier, whiter school districts. In fact, these inequities are precisely the reason that affirmative action in colleges has been one small step towards justice, and precisely why today's SCOTUS ruling was such a blow.

"Judge Jubelirer's February ruling ordered the Commonwealth's Executive and Legislative branches of government to address this decades-long system of neglect. But instead of acting with the urgency this crisis demands, too many elected officials in Harrisburg are hell-bent on perpetuating the immoral and unconstitutional system of public education in our Commonwealth. The legislature has a pivotal window to address the facilities crisis, and in fact the State House has passed a sweeping bill that would infuse hundreds of millions of dollars into Districts across the state to remediate toxic school buildings. 

"Yet, too many elected officials are focused on moving our funding system in the wrong direction, and have thrown themselves into trying to pass a wrong-headed and in fact discriminatory voucher program. The research on vouchers is clear. They don't work, and they in fact discriminate against children based on myraid factors. 

"And relatedly, I would be remiss not to add that this weekend's summit of the Moms for Liberty convention in Philadelphia is emblematic of the perilous nature of our democracy, rights, and freedoms. Moms for Liberty, rightfully deemed an 'Extremist Group' by Southern Poverty Law Center, will come to our great city to espouse their bigoted policies. Their hateful rhetoric has no place in our city, and no place in our society. Their attempt to subvert 'LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curriculum' is dangerous.

"None of these issues happen in a vacuum, and the SCOTUS ruling, the school facilities crisis, the decades of disinvestment, and so much more are all deeply intertwined. At the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, we remain unequivocal in our fight for a better tomorrow, and we will continue to press on."



Additional documents and research:

6/21/23: Memo: Voucher opposition

6/21/23: Memo: Support for HB1408 (facilities funding)

6/23/23: Remarks at facilities press conference

6/26/23: Memo: Additional research on vouchers

6/27/23: Remarks at anti-voucher coalition press conference

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