Read this detailed explainer to understand Pennsylvania’s ongoing legal struggle for equitable school funding, from the “education clause” to the role of income in determining student outcomes. The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, Public Interest Law Center, and the law firm O’Melveny represent the plaintiffs in this case.
In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and
Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, we at the Advocacy for Racial & Civil Justice Clinic renew our dedication to work relentlessly until every student has equitable access to higher education and all career pipelines. Read our statement
Overbrook Educational Center is a Philadelphia public school serving mainly students with disabilities, including visual impairment. Students at the school have navigated late, inconsistent, and unsafe transportation, cutting into their school time and putting their well-being at risk. ARC Justice Clinic is working with parents and students to advocate for change.
Read our letters to the School District of Philadelphia:
On November 15, 2023, the Clinic and co-counsel Education Law Center filed a complaint on behalf of the Bucks County NAACP, PairUP Society, and students and parents in Pennridge School District, demanding that the District remedy the existing hostile environment, which is rife with race- and sex-based harassment in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act (Act 135) is a Pennsylvania law that enables nonprofit corporations and individuals to petition a court to be appointed “conservators” of allegedly blighted properties.
What are racial impact statements? Racial impact statements are a tool for lawmakers to evaluate the potential harms or discriminatory effects of a proposed policy, practice, or bill. Many state and local governments, including Pennsylvania, use fiscal and environmental impact assessment tools to understand the impacts of proposed policies on a state’s finances or environmental wellbeing. Racial impact statements similarly allow lawmakers to determine whether pending legislation, policies and practices are likely to create or exacerbate existing racial disparities.
What are some examples of racial impact statement policies? One of President Biden’s first Executive Orders, “Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” required that all Federal Agencies assess whether underserved communities “face systemic barriers in accessing benefits and opportunities available pursuant to those policies and programs.” At least nine states have also implemented mechanisms for the preparation and consideration of racial impact statements. But local governments have been the true leaders on racial impact assessments. Seattle’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) has required all city departments to use a racial equity analysis in policy and budget decisions since 2005. Every city department must submit a RSJI work plan to the mayor each year, and the city provides a Racial Equity Toolkit to give the departments guidance. Cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Oregon have followed Seattle’s lead. In 2021, Chicago put out the first ever racial equity impact assessment to guide allocation of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
Why should Philadelphia adopt a racial impact statement policy? In Philadelphia, racial impact statements can be an important tool to help lawmakers understand how decisions will affect marginalized communities. By evaluating proposed policies before they are enacted, legislators can mitigate the effect of systemic racism on marginalized communities and identify alternative options to remedy unanticipated negative consequences. As Philadelphia confronts the presence of systemic racism, the city’s next mayor should take proactive steps to combat discrimination and prevent harmful practices. The use of racial impact statements is one way to do this.
On Monday, March 20, 2023, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), the Abolitionist Law Center, and the law firm of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin LLP announced a settlement with the City of Philadelphia over the Philadelphia Police Department’s use of violence during the city’s 2020 racial justice protests. $9.25 million will go to individuals and community harmed by police militarism and use of force. ARC Justice Clinic students participated in crafting the settlement and will be involved in distributing the funds.
Images from the 3/20 press conference at the Paul Robeson House and Museum:
ARC Justice Clinic students are working with the Bread and Roses Community Fund to craft and implement the West Philadelphia Community Fund, supporting equity, racial justice, organizing, and healing for people impacted by police violence.
ARC Justice Clinic Letter of Support for House Bill 999, Repealing the Death Penalty in Pennsylvania, Fall 2023
Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic Statement on Abolishing the Death Penalty, Spring 2023:
We applaud Governor Shapiro for calling for the end of the death penalty. The Pennsylvania legislature should act on this, not just because it is morally wrong, but because the racist use of capital punishment is indefensible.
Throughout its history, Pennsylvania has been a national leader in death sentences and executions. Since its first execution in 1693, PA has executed 1,043 people in prison, the fourth-highest state in the country. PA has one of the longest death row lists in the country and is second only to Louisiana in the percentage of Black people on death row. A Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee even found that one-third of the Black people held on death-row in Philadelphia County would have received sentences of life imprisonment if they had not been Black.
No credible evidence has shown that the death penalty deters violent crime, and minorities have disproportionately carried the burden of this misinformed practice. To the PA General Assembly, we urge you to abolish the death penalty.