Unpacking the week that was | Five for the Weekend

Happy weekend, all. 

Between special elections, court decisions, and the State of the Union address, there were a lot of headlines to keep up with this week.

Luckily, the Capital-Star team has you covered on the news you might have missed:

School Funding Court Ruling

A judge declared Pa.’s K-12 public school funding system unconstitutional. What comes next?

Special Election

Democrats secure House majority with victories in Allegheny County special elections

Legal relief for abuse survivors at the top of Democrats’ agenda when the House returns

State of the Union

‘Finish the job’: Biden makes bipartisan pitch to divided Congress; Pa. lawmakers respond

As always, the top five stories from this week are below.

Students, families, and education advocates join Children First and Education Voters of Pennsylvania to host a rally on the Capitol steps to “ring the bells of justice,” and call for equitable funding for Pennsylvania public schools. The rally, which took place Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, occurred on the first day of the landmark trial that could change how Pennsylvania funds its 500 school districts.
(Capital-Star photo by Marley Parish)

1. Pa. court sides with plaintiffs in K-12 school funding case

A Pennsylvania judge has declared the state’s system to pay for K-12 public schools unconstitutional, marking a victory for plaintiffs in a landmark trial to reform education funding.

In an order filed Tuesday, Commonwealth Court President Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer said that the General Assembly has failed to uphold its constitutional obligation to provide all children a “thorough and efficient” education system by depriving students in school districts with low property values and incomes of the same resources and opportunities of children in wealthier ones.

“It is now the obligation of the Legislature, executive branch, and educators to make the constitutional promise a reality in this commonwealth,” Cohn Jubelirer wrote in a nearly 800-page ruling.

Black History Month 2023 banner art (Getty Images)

2. High schoolers need exposure to ideas in African American studies | Opinion

As Black History Month begins, Arkansas’ education governor’s Education Department says it’s reviewing an advanced placement course in African American studies that’s being tried out in two Arkansas schools as part of a pilot program in 60 high schools nationwide.

The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education is asking questions of the nonprofit that developed the college-level course for high school students to determine whether the course violates Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ executive orders, specifically one that prohibits “indoctrination and critical race theory in schools.”

You may have heard of the course previously because Florida’s Department of Education rejected teaching the course in Florida schools because it “significantly lacks educational value” and violates state law banning the teaching of certain concepts regarding race.

The New Jersey Senate voting during its session on 2/2/23. (Hal Brown for New Jersey Monitor). The New Jersey Senate voting during its session on 2/2/23. (Hal Brown for New Jersey Monitor).

3. N.J. lawmakers pass bill to make ‘sextortion’ a crime

Using sexual images to extort victims could soon become a crime in New Jersey after lawmakers in the Senate unanimously passed legislation last week to criminalize “sextortion.”

Sextortion can involve someone hacking into a person’s computer or phone to steal sexual material and threaten to distribute it, or coercing a victim into taking explicit photos or videos and then using them to demand more.

The ceiling of the main Rotunda inside Pennsylvania’s Capitol building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star). The ceiling of the main Rotunda inside Pennsylvania’s Capitol building on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

4. Lobbyist’s harassment claim shines new light on efforts to hold Pa. lawmakers accountable

A union lobbyist’s allegation of sexual harassment by a sitting member of the Pennsylvania House has again highlighted the need for comprehensive sexual harassment policies in the General Assembly, lawmakers advocating such rules say.

Andi Perez, a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union 32BJ, said last month that she was touched inappropriately by a male lawmaker while she was working and discussing legislation over drinks.

The state representative “decided to caress my leg while I was wearing a skirt all the while telling me he was impressed by my passion and knowledge of the issues we were discussing,” Perez said. “I moved away from him hoping he would stop — he did not.”

Protesters gather at the Temple University bell tower during rally on Thursday 2/2/23 (Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler). Protesters gather at the Temple University bell tower during rally on Thursday 2/2/23 (Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler).

5. Temple U graduate students go on strike for a living wage

The Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA) went on strike early Tuesday morning for the first time in the union’s history since it was founded in 1979 and continues to show their support for a living wage through ongoing rallies on campus.

The union represents 750 graduate student-teachers and research assistants who have demanded a living wage, healthcare, longer parental and bereavement leave, and better working conditions for over a year now.

Thursday marked the third day of the strike as TUGSA students gathered at the center of Temple’s campus to unite in numbers and spread the word.

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Cassie Miller

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