United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania is urging members of the denomination to fast, pray and rally for education justice Saturday, June 20, and again Wednesday, June 24. United Methodists are invited to join an interfaith gathering of religious advocates for fair statewide school funding legislation on the steps of the State Capitol in Harrisburg June 20, starting at 10 AM. They are also urged to join a June 24 rally and visits to legislators’ offices to advocate for that same cause. The June 20 event will consecrate the start of a 10-day fast and witness by people of faith while legislators debate the 2016 budget.
The Eastern PA Annual Conference approved a resolution on May 16 calling for legislation to increase and fairly distribute public-school funding. The Rev. Dai Morgan, Coordinator of United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, issued the call to rally. He provided the following statement.
The #MORALTAKEOVER Flyer announces an interfaith gathering of religious advocates for fair school funding legislation on this Saturday, June 20, also on the steps of the State Capitol in Harrisburg, starting at 10 AM. They will consecrate the start of a 10-day fast and witness by people of faith while legislators debate the 2016 budget and decide whether or not to mandate fair distribution of new money to support schools. By June 30 this 10-day #MORALTAKEOVER action may become the largest interfaith mobilization in Pennsylvania’s history.
Everyone is urged to come to the Saturday, June 20, interfaith service and rally, but especially to attend the Wednesday, June 24, demonstration at the State Capitol. Read the statement for more information.
Pennsylvania State lawmakers are presently debating the state budget for the coming year. Budgets are moral documents, in that they reflect the values and priorities of the state in advancing the common good. As people of faith, we are called to share a moral witness to this process, especially as it relates to the most vulnerable members of our society – the poor in our communities, and the children in our schools.
Our United Methodist Social Principles state, “As a church, we are called to support the poor and challenge the rich. To begin to alleviate poverty, we support such policies as: adequate income maintenance, quality education, decent housing, job training, meaningful employment opportunities…”
In rural, suburban, and urban areas alike, Pennsylvania’s school districts have been underfunded for decades. According to federal data, Pennsylvania has the most unequally funded public schools in the United States.
But, even after national attention on our schools and a mandate from voters for more education funding, Harrisburg still isn’t listening. Gov. Wolf proposed an increase to public education funding that is still just a fraction of what would fully fund schools next year. Pennsylvania’s House has proposed a budget with no new money for schools.
In response to this condition, POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) and PIIN (Pennsyvania Interfaith Impact Network) have organized a Demonstration for Fair Education Funding. Starting on June 20, 2015, people of faith from across the state will gather to fast and pray for 10 days, until the budget deadline of June 30. It is being called a “Moral Takeover.” During this period, many people of faith have committed to maintaining a presence on the Capitol Building steps in Harrisburg.
June 24 has been selected as the day for United Methodists to show support for this interfaith demonstration in favor of a fair education funding formula in Pennsylvania. The day will include a morning worship service, orientation for visitors, distribution of flyers and a silent “Jericho Walk” through the halls of the Capitol.
Those interested in participating or learning more about this event are invited to contact Rev. Dai Morgan, Coordinator of United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relating to Full Fair Funding Formula for Pennsylvania Schools Presented by the Methodist Federation for Social Action
Approved by the Annual Conference on May 16, 2015
WHEREAS, Pennsylvania is one of only three states in the US without a fair funding formula, which means funding is allocated based on political power not student needs, This can lead to dramatic funding crises – particularly in districts that are unable to rely on property taxes to adequately fund their schools; and
WHEREAS, Paragraph 162.C of the 2012 United Methodist Book of Discipline states “we support the development of school systems and innovative methods of education designed to assist every child toward complete fulfillment as an individual person of worth”;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference commits to: