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Shuffling the Deck Won’t Solve the Pennsylvania School Funding Crisis

By Blog Post, Policy Briefs

In February 2023, Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer called for a new funding system in Pennsylvania to fulfill the state’s obligation to provide a thorough and efficient education for its children. But, opponents of increased education funding cite the state’s high per-student spending, compared to other states, as a reason not to increase our total spending on K-12 schools.

The comparison to other states’ spending per student is misleading in multiple ways.



shuffling the deck

Education Funding and Educational Achievement

By Blog Post, Policy Briefs


A year ago, Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer ruled that Pennsylvania violates its constitutional obligation to create a “thorough and efficient” system of school funding. In response, legislative leaders and Governor Shapiro have charged the Basic Education Funding Commission with providing a blueprint for General Assembly action that would meet our constitutional obligation.

In in developing that blueprint, the General Assembly can learn from what other states have done. Seen from a national perspective, Judge Jubelirer’s decision is not an outlier. In response to similar court decisions, about half the states have added substantial state funding of K-12 education in the last thirty years.  In almost every case, the judicial decisions, like that of Judge Jubelirer, focused on the inequity in school funding created by over-reliance on locally raised revenues to pay for schools.

Because Pennsylvania is a latecomer to school funding reform, a generation of our children has been denied a good education. And that is a terrible loss we have all suffered as a result. But the delay gives us the benefit of learning from the large body of research on education and school funding that was stimulated by reform efforts in other states. That research shows us how effective new funding for underfunded schools in Pennsylvania can be in lifting student achievement and in later-life success.

Education Funding and Educational Achievement


Parents Have Rights—But Not to Ban Books

By Blog Post, Editorial Board Memo

The Senate is now considering SB 7, a bill proposed by Senator Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster),which would require schools to “identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum, materials, and books and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content or that a book their child wishes to view in the school library contains explicit content.” Parents would have to opt in to allow their children and teens to read or view those materials as part of their coursework and in the library. Without an opt-in, the school would provide the child alternate coursework.

Parents do have some rights to limit what their children read and view. And that right is protected, in part, by US constitutional law.

Federal courts have recognized that a state has a right to mandate that all children receive an education that it deems is necessary for them to be well-informed and productive citizens. The state sets the schoolsoverall curriculum and the details are filled in by school boards, which do with the advice of educated and experienced school administrators, teachers, and librarians. These people have expert knowledge about the kinds of materials that, in the current day and age, are important for children to view and read if they are to have an accurate and empathetic understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Especially in matters that touch their moral and religious beliefs, parents have a right to guide the kind of education their children receive. That right was made part of the US Constitution in 1972 in the Wisconsin v. Yoder (406 US 205) decision. And that right has long been exercised in informal ways by parents who have objected to some of the material their children read or view—and schools typically respect parents views.

In fact, parents are already able to monitor the material their children have access to in school. School curricula and library books are all public. Parents can review what their children read and view with them.

So the basic intent of this bill is in keeping with longstanding practice and our constitutional tradition.

The details of the bill are troubling, however, because they could potentially lead to drastically limiting the variety of material to which children can read and view in school, especially with regard to sexual matters.

It is important for that material to be available for two reasons.

First, every child needs accurate, factual, responsible education about sex and sexuality. Age-appropriate information on health, puberty, sexuality, and sexual relationships keeps our children safe. It helps our teens form appropriate and healthy romantic relationships, and it gives young people the language they need to speak up in the unfortunate chance that they are dealing with sexual abuse.

Second, parents sometimes struggle to understand the issues of sexuality and gender identityraised by their children. (And these are not necessarily cases in which parents object to the material to which their children have access). Sometimes parents refuse to accept their child’s sexual identity. In the worst cases, children face abuse in the home because of their identity or are kicked out entirely. Between 20% and 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+ children who have been rejected by their parents, a percentage that is far higher than the 7% of children who identify as LGBTQ+. Children who are unsafe at homeand indeed , all childrendeserve to have safe schools that can provide not only a quality education but also a refuge. And even whenparents do not object to their children’s emerging identities, they sometimes do not how to respond helpfully to children who are struggling with issues of sexuality. In these cases, children often turn to information they find in the classroom and school library, as well as to trusted teachers, counselors, and other educational professionals. Thus, it is important that such educational materials be available to students where they’re best able to access it.

So, the proper policy in this area is one that recognizes the rights of parents to monitor and approve the material their children read and view while ensuring that an appropriate range of such material is available to students generally.

The current bill does not appropriately balance these two considerations.

The kind of material that would require parental opt-in is overly broad. The bill requires that parents opt in to allow access to material that is “sexually explicit” but only defines this term in the language of a form parents would be required to sign to allow their children to read or view such material. According to the bill draft, the form must include this language:

By signing this document I am giving permission for my child to be provided books, handouts and instructional material that may include written or visual depictions of sexual conduct. Sexual conduct is defined in law as “Acts of masturbation, sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality or physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if the person is a female, breast.”

The trouble with this language is that it encompasses too wide a range of material. It could include everything from pornographic depictions of masturbation and sexual intercourse to the kinds of bland, yet accurate, discussions of these same topics in books, pamphlets and videos on sexuality and sexual health to the mild and implicit portrayal of sexual conduct that leave almost everything to the imagination. Under the law, all of this material could be categorized as including written or visual depictions of sexual conduct, and thus would require parental approval.

The legislation’s overly broad language would therefore require formal parental approval for most of the material in a sexual health curriculum as well as for most works of fiction that deal with matters of love and romance.

In addition, this overly broad language could be used by school board members and administrators, acting on their own ideological views or those of activists who pressure them, to require opt-ins for works that discuss any topic they disapprove ofeven if they contain nolanguage or images that most of us would consider as depicting “sexual conduct.” The graphic adaptation of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been removed from a library in a Florida school because it includes not a depiction or description but merely a short discussion of innocuous same-sex interaction. It is likely that some activist groups would object to any material discussing same-sex, interracial or premarital sexual relationships on the grounds that they depict “sexual conduct” even though the average reasonable adult would reject that characterization.

Once a letter from the school goes home to parents asking them to opt in to material that are said to “depict sexual conduct as described in a opt-in form that include a range of explicitly described activities that includes bestiality, it is likely that many parents, having no other information about the material except for this categorization, will not opt in. There is no way for parents to know how sexual conduct is depicted in material they are being asked to evaluate.

This process is thus biased towards encouraging parents to say no to any material that school administrators either acting on their own or on behalf of others want to call into question for any reason.

The process is biased against parents granting permission in another way. Parents are not always able to stay on top of the many messages they receive from school. That’s especially true for parents who are economically stressed and especially for single parents with multiple jobs. But it can be true for any parent. Parents who are honest with themselves will remember times when they forgot to fill out some important paperwork sent home from school, especially if they did not think the issue raised by the paperwork was important. So it is likely that at least some parents who would approve of the material they are being asked to evaluate will simply forget to sign the opt-in form.

So the opt-in policy, combined with the designation of certain material as “depicting sexual conductin broad terms and parent inattention, would likely mean that a large number of parents might not allow their children to read or view material. Many parents who, with time to thoughtfully consider the specific materials involved, would not object to the age-appropriatecurricula used to teach their kids, will fail to opt-in because opt-in form itself scares them or because they misplace it or forget to send it in.

It would be bad enough if a process that is biased against making important educational material available to students were to limit only those students whose parents refuse to opt in from seeing it. We fear, however, the bias in registering parental sentiment about certain books, pamphlets, or videos would mean that a minority of parents opt-in. This could lead schools to ban those materials entirely. This would undermine the goals of parents who do not object to the material in question, who want their kids to take sexual education courses or read good literature that deals with sexual and romantic life. Students we be denied access to material that trained educators believe is useful for them. And students who are struggling with their sexuality and/or identity would have no acces to material that could help them.

In effect, the opt-in requirement could lead to a policy in which a minority of parents, without engaging the entire community in discussion, have the ability to ban books and other materials in school libraries and school classrooms.

Our teachers, administrators, and school librarians want what is best for our children, and they are already working in stressful, and often underfunded, conditions. Their efforts would be most effective if parents and teachers could work together for the benefit of children and teens.

The design of Senate Bill 7 does not encourage that process; it stifles it.

A better balance between the interests of parents and the well-being of all children would be struck if the policy were revised in two ways.

First, it should require parents to opt out of their children having access to some material related to sex and sexuality. It is likely that parents who are especially concerned about what their kids read or view at school would be those most likely to review information sent home to them about this subject and thus would be able to decide which materials should not be available to their children. These parents could use their ability to opt out to do what they believe is appropriate for their own children without blocking other kid’s access to this material.

Second, the process created by the bill should be more fine-grained and ask parents to opt out of specific books, pamphlets, videos, and other materials that their children might see in the classroom or school library.  The schools could give parents advance notice of such materials used in course work or available in the library and ask them to review those materials. The school and / or groups concerned about material that depicts sexuality in the schools could provide summaries or relevant excerpts for parents to examine so they could make specific, detailed choices for their children.

This is the only way the proposed legislation would protect the rights of all Pennsylvania parentsnot just some.

By requiring parents to opt out rather than opt in to their children having access to certain materials, and by giving parents the ability to opt out of specific books, pamphlets, videos and the like rather than an entire, quite vague category of material, revised legislation would appropriately balance the rights of parents with other important considerations while avoiding the risk of giving a minority of parents power not only to limit what their children see and read but what every child attending the school can see or read.

Economic Opportunity, the Dignity of Work, and the Minimum Wage

By Blog Post

Raising the minimum wage has always been about the dignity, as well as the wages, of working people. We who place so much value on our ability to provide for ourselves and our families should recognize the importance of ensuring a dignified living wage for all full-time workers. 

Yet during the debate on the minimum wage in the Pennsylvania House in May, Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives showed us what they think of low-wage workers. They proposed amendments to the minimum wage bill that are classic examples of blaming the victim. One would exclude workers without a high school degree, or the equivalent, from the protection of the minimum wage. Another would require workers to pass a literacy test to earn the minimum wage.  

These representatives—many of whom come from districts in which ten percent or more of the population do not have a high school degree and who complained about the government protecting their lives by requiring them to wear masks—must believe that hard-working people need their paternalistic hand to tell them how to live their lives. 

These amendments show us that too many Republicans are motivated by a toxic individualism that assumes people making low wages are at fault for not trying hard enough while those of us who make higher wages deserve all the credit for doing so. 

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town in upstate New York where I had friends from every economic class. I learned then how much our economic success is a product of luck as well as pluck.  

As a young child, I was surprised when I visited friends whose families had few, if any, books in their homes. But I was not surprised when, in later years, they didn’t read as well as my upper-middle-class friends did. And some of us who did well in school had the advantage of pre-K education or of parents who had the time and expertise to support us in school or who could pay for extra help. They could also pay for the private lessons in science and art, as well as summer camps, that stimulated our minds. These advantages were not available to our friends who came from families with lower incomes.  

As a teenager, I—like my friends, poor and rich—did a lot of stupid things, that sent some of us on a downward path. But those of us who came from upper-middle-class families were protected from the mistakes we all made—like getting in trouble with the police, goofing off at school and failing a class or two, being forced to leave college or an apprenticeship program, getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant. We could afford lawyers, tutors, private guidance counselors, and trips to a state where abortion was legal. When we made mistakes, we got second or third chances. Our friends from low-income families had far less margin for error. When they made the mistakes that we all make, they had to drop out of high school or college and take a dead-end job to provide for the children they had when only young themselves.  

When we looked for summer jobs, those of us who came from middle-class or union families had connections that helped us get jobs that paid well and / or gave us the kind of help we needed to get ahead in the future. Some of us could take unpaid internships that helped us get into a better college. Our friends from low-income families without those connections started at the bottom in jobs with little future.  

That’s not to say that those of us who had the right parents didn’t work hard to get where we are today. We did work hard as teenagers and young adults, and we work hard at our jobs today. But our friends who didn’t have the same opportunities we did also worked hard then and still do today. But they didn’t have the opportunities, or even more importantly, the extra chances that we had. Some of them, with extraordinary talent and ambition, did manage to make it into the upper middle class. But many did not. And some have struggled their whole lives, no matter how hard they have worked.  

Unequal opportunities in our society—as well as an economy dominated by large corporations that hold wages down for working people—are why we must ensure that Pennsylvanians receive a living wage that respects their hard work. 

For if we are honest with ourselves, none of us are self-made people. And as the philosopher Morris Raphael Cohen once expressed: Anyone who thinks they are self-made is no credit to their maker. 

Saving Public Education in Pennsylvania, Where It Began

By Blog Post, Op-Ed

Originally published on

The budget stalemate in Harrisburg hasn’t been primarily about whether some budget line items go up or down by a few hundred million dollars. Those kinds of disputes are easy to resolve. Rather, it’s been about whether Pennsylvania will start down a radical, extremist path that leads to the destruction of public education in our state.

As we celebrate the birth of our country, we should remember that public education is central to the ideals that led to, and grew out of, American independence. And we in Pennsylvania should resolve not to compromise those ideals as the state passes its budget this year.

The American Revolution was not just a political revolution against the King and Parliament. It was also a social revolution against the hierarchal society they represented, a society in which everyone knew and kept in their place. It was a revolution to give all white men, no matter whether they started out poor or rich, real freedom and an opportunity to better themselves—and, in doing so, contribute to the well-being of the whole country. Over the following 200-plus years, we have expanded their vision and still seek freedom and opportunity for all people, no matter what they look like, no matter their gender, and no matter who they love.

Creating opportunity for all does not just mean tearing down the barriers of aristocracy. Founders like Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Adams realized that unless access to a good education was available to all, opportunity would be limited to only a few.

They also realized two other things. First, the future of the country required our citizens to have a civic education centered around American ideals. And second, the rapidly growing economy in the early 19th century needed workers who would only get the necessary education if it were publicly provided.

Cities, towns, and villages provided free public education as early as 1639. Many colonies and every new state after 1776 required local communities to create public schools.

As it became clear that the benefits of public education spread far beyond local communities, states began to support those schools. Under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, who was the great educator before he became the great liberator, Pennsylvania became the first state to do so in 1834.

Private schools have always existed alongside the public schools, and Pennsylvania today offers business tax credits that provide $350 million in support for private schools.

But Republican extremists from outside Pennsylvania, like billionaire Betsy Devos, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education, have always wanted much more: a radical, voucher-based alternative to the public school system in every state. When Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court plainly said that our public schools are inadequately and inequitably funded, Republicans lied and said it called for more support for private schools.

And now the Senate Republicans are holding the state budget hostage for what looks like a small investment in vouchers. That Betsy Devos and other billionaire extremists embraced it, however, shows us that the ultimate goal of the program is the total replacement of public schools. States that have taken the first step in this direction, like Ohio and Arizona, have been traveling down that slippery slope ever since they first enacted a voucher program with declining funding for public schools.

What would be wrong with a privatized school system?

Most importantly, it would be an elitist system, in which wealthy parents would supplement state vouchers to attend schools that were far better funded than the schools the rest of our children could attend. The promise of America, to offer real freedom and equal education to all, would come to an end. England’s rigid class system, which our founders sought to displace, would be recreated here.

This elitism would not only block the way forward for working people, it would especially affect Black and brown people, who have far fewer resources to attend private schools but receive no more under the voucher plan proposed here and in other states. A privatized education system would be an inherently racist one.

Second, our children would no longer attend schools that teach American ideals. There are too many who attend schools that teach religious ideas that conflict with our ideals and that undermine respect for science and rational thought itself. And the private schools attended by the wealthy would, implicitly or explicitly, teach their students that they are members of the elite, who deserve to rule over the rest of us.

And third, economic growth, which grew because of our huge investment in public schools and the skills and talents of our people, would slow down as fewer people have access to an excellent K-12 education and the opportunities for further education and training it creates.

Like the British monarchs and aristocrats before them, the wealthy elitists who back vouchers think that America’s success depends on people like them having outsized political and economic power.

We need to remind them and their supporters, among whom are Republican legislators and Governor Shapiro, that the success—and the soul—of America depends on fairly and fully funded public schools that provide opportunity and freedom for all.



Update on Pennsylvania Budget Negotiations

By Blog Post

With $13 billion in accumulated surplus and a budget from the governor that proposed modest additions to state spending on policies that have broad support, one would expect that making a budget deal would be easy.

Yet the budget deadline came and went.

House Democrats passed a budget four weeks ago with more funding for a number of programs, including education, where they added to basic education funding and special education funding, and added the popular Level Up program back into the budget. They then passed a minimum wage bill that was not perfect but would put Pennsylvania on a path to $15. Governor Shapiro embraced both plans.

Senate Republicans passed a profoundly flawed budget, at the last minute, that rejected most of the House plan. Its worst element, however, was the inclusion of a $100 million down payment on a radical plan, sponsored by extremist billionaires like Betsy Devos and Jeffrey Yass, to destroy our public school system. Then they left town.

The House Democrats had already made clear that there will be no voucher program adopted this year or for as long as they are in the House majority. (And given that their stance on all the critical issues is totally aligned with the majority in public polls, they may well be in the majority for a long time.)

So, we’re back to square one.

How did we get here?

First, negotiations started later than usual. There were new political circumstances: a Democratic House majority that did not really take power until the special elections in March, a new governor, and new leadership in the Senate. The new people, with power in their hands, had to take time to build relationships, internally and externally, and learn the ropes of the budget process.

Second, in an extraordinary display of political chutzpah, having lost the education funding case in court, the Republicans tried to twist the decision—which calls for a new, fair system of funding public schools—into a mandate to radically restructure our education system by privatizing schools.

Third, the Republicans not only misread the opinion of the courts but may have misread Governor Shapiro as well. The governor signaled his willingness to support a modest Lifeline scholarship program during his campaign and has continued to do so ever since. However, his support was contingent on funding public schools fully and fairly. When public schools are so radically underfunded, any allotment of money for vouchers takes away critical funds from these schools. And the Senate Republican budget does far less than the House Democratic budget. While the Governor has not been as clear as we’d like, we hope his unwillingness to embrace the Senate budget indicates that he’s having second thoughts about the school voucher plan. As he thinks about his political future, the Governor must be concerned that the endorsement of the Senate plan by anti-government extremists Betsy Devos and Grover Norquist reveals that Republicans see Lifeline scholarships not as a supplement to public schools, but as a foot in the door for a radical restructuring of education funding in Pennsylvania.

Fourth, it appears that many Republicans don’t understand that they lost the last election: in fact, their gubernatorial candidate lost in a landslide. They lost the House majority for the first time in over a decade. While Senate Republicans did not lose seats—mostly because that chamber remains more gerrymandered than the House—the political landscape has shifted. But Republican expectations have not shifted with them.

The Republicans can legitimately claim a role in setting funding levels in the budget. But there seems to be a faction among Senate Republicans that is taking its cues from national Republicans, who think they can hold hostage any necessary government action—whether it is a state budget or an agreement to avoid default—until they get their way, no matter how radical their proposals are. This is, sadly, a product of the belief among Republican extremists that theirs is the only legitimate governing party. That, however, is not the view of most Pennsylvanians. Democrats here in Pennsylvania are not going to embrace extremist, radical ideas in the budget process any more than President Biden allowed it in Washington.

And fifth, Senate Republicans apparently believe that any delay in the budget will be blamed on Governor Shapiro. They fail to understand that, even before his effective leadership in managing the recent I-95 repair, the governor is widely admired and is in the best possible position to wait for them to accept political reality. And the Governor surely understands that the radical intent of the Lifeline program is deeply unpopular with Democrats, not just in Pennsylvania but around the country.

The House Democrats have accepted political reality. They have enacted many of their proposals (which are, frankly, progressive) but have done so in ways that have not pushed the envelope; and on many issues, they have won Republican support. When the Senate Republicans recognize political reality as well, they will be able to strike a budget deal with the House Democrats and Governor Shapiro.


PA House Passes Proposals to Reduce Taxes for Working People

By Blog Post

Four Major Proposals Will Make Pennsylvania Taxes Fairer

The Pennsylvania House today passed the second and third of four major tax proposals: an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit (HB 1259) and the creation of a state Earned Income Tax (HB 1272). These actions follow on House passage of an expansion of the Property Tax / Rent Rebate Program (HB 1110) on January 6. The House is expected to act soon to pass the repeal of the gross receipts tax and sales and use tax on wireless cell phone services (HB 1138).

Taken together, the four bills that have been, or will soon be, passed by the House of Representatives will reduce taxes for working people in Pennsylvania and make our state’s tax system fairer. While there is more to be done to fix our upside-down tax system in which the wealthiest Pennsylvania families pay taxes at lower rate than low- and moderate-income families, these proposals are a big step in the right direction. We are grateful to the Democratic House leadership for moving these proposals to the floor and to both the Democrats and Republicans who voted for them.

The first proposal passed today was an expansion of the Child Tax Credit, first enacted last June, in the budget for the current fiscal year. The Pennsylvania Child Tax Credit piggybacks on the federal child and dependent tax credit. The initial version of the tax passed last year gave Pennsylvania taxpayers with children a tax credit equal to 30% of the employment-related child and dependent care expenses claimed on a family’s federal tax return of up to $3,000 for one dependent or $6,000 for two or more dependents. The new bill gradually expands the credit to 50% of the child and dependent expenses with a cap of $5,000 for one dependent and $10,000 for two or more. The child and dependent tax credit benefits all families who pay for child and dependent care, but because those costs are a bigger burden on low- and moderate-income families, and because of the cap on allowable costs, the tax credit provides extra help for families at the bottom and middle of the income scale. Representative Tina Davis (D-Bucks) was the prime sponsor of the legislation, which has also been championed by Representative Melissa Shusterman (D-Chester) in recent years.

The second proposal passed today was a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This is a proposal that the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has supported for a number of years. The state Earned Income Tax Credit piggybacks on the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which is one of the major programs that lift families out of poverty in the United States. The state EITC will give Pennsylvania families 25% of what they received under the federal credit. Families will have to choose between receiving this credit or the credit allowed under the existing tax forgiveness program. The Pennsylvania Policy Center (PPC) estimates that a new state EITC will benefit families with incomes roughly up to $22,000 in income more than the existing tax forgiveness program. (PPC will present a full analysis of the new proposal soon.) Representative Christina Sappey (D-Chester) was the prime sponsor of the legislation, which has been championed by Representative Sara Innamorato (D-Allegheny) in recent years.

Last week the House passed HB 1100, an expansion of the Property Tax / Rent Rebate Program, which reduces property taxes for seniors and people with disabilities. This legislation, which was proposed by Governor  Josh Shapiro in his budget address, raises the income limits for the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program from $35,000 for homeowners and $15,000 for renters to $45,000 for both homeowners and renters. In addition, under the legislation, people eligible for the program will see the maximum rent rebate increase from $650 to $1,000 for taxpayers with incomes below $8,000 with smaller, but substantial, increases for taxpayers with higher incomes. The legislation also adds a cost of living adjustment that will allow the income limits and benefits to increase with inflation in the future. Based on an analysis prepared by the Institute for Tax and Economic Policy, PPC expects that 10.5% of taxpayers and 15.8% of taxpayers with incomes below $82,000 will see their taxes cut due to the expansion of the program. Less than 4% of taxpayers with incomes above $82,000 will receive a tax cut. This proposal was sponsored by Representative Steve Samuelson, (D-Northampton), Democratic chair of the House Finance Committee.

The House is also expected to pass HB 1138 to repeal the gross receipts tax and sales and use tax on wireless cell phone services (HB 1138). This proposal was also part of Governor Shapiro’s budget and is sponsored in the House by Representative Ben Waxman (D-Philadelphia). Like most other gross receipts and sales taxes, this one is regressive in nature in that it takes a larger share of income from those with low incomes than those with high incomes. That is especially true when one considers that owning a cell phone is no longer optional for most working people and those who care for dependents.


The Real Cost of Opening a Window for Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Pennsylvania

By Blog Post, Policy Briefs

By Marc Stier

I was asked to testify about the claims made in a paper by the Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy that opening a two-year window for childhood victims of sexual abuse to bring lawsuits against their abusers might cost public schools in Pennsylvania between $10 billion and $32 billion. On its face, the claim sounds utterly absurd. (Not to mention irrelevant; if that is the cost of doing justice for those who have suffered from sexual abuse, then that is what we should be prepared to pay.) But as I delved into the details of the paper, I discovered that it was based on what, frankly, was a horror show of faulty research methods and statistical analyses. I was tempted to say—but in the setting of an official hearing in the Capitol, did not say—that this paper would have received no better than a D grade in the research methods or statistics courses I had taught at the University of North Carolina Charlotte or City College of New York. But that is, in fact, the truth.

Read the whole response here.  

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