Public Education: Shouldn’t fairness be our community goal?

“I believe the children are our future.” I believe that ALL children are our future… even the ones that are poor or English language learners. I cannot understand how we have let funding for education to become the MOST backwards thing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The biggest challenges in education are in our urban schools. Overcoming poverty, working parents, gang culture, language barriers, and special education are only a few of the issues that urban educators face. Resources are needed. More teachers, more facilities, afterschool programs, and social services are proven ways to improve student performance in urban districts. These cost money. Money that must be raised by a decreasing tax base. When local tax efforts generate less revenue, where is an urban district to find the resources to improve the lives of these kids?

Suburban districts have fewer of these challenges and significantly more resources. At the risk of sounding like a four year old, “It’s not fair!” It is not fair to school board members who make tough decisions about social services when the next district buys 1,250 new Apple computers. It is not fair to the kid who is a victim of his own situation.

Have you ever met an amazing kid, who is in a bad situation? A kid who doesn’t know how to get out of the neighborhood he was born into? I’d be happy to introduce you to one of these kids. You would be surprised to learn that under their shells of self preservation, they are just kids. They deserve options and caring teachers who have time to spend. They deserve to have a pathway to make their life better than their parents’. They deserve a chance. Public education is their only chance.

How do we help these kids? We help them by funding their education with 1/3 of the amount that is spent on a kid who has everything. That is not help. That is inequity. It makes me so sad that I get sick. It makes me so frustrated that I want to scream. It makes me hate this Commonwealth that I love so much.

What makes it worse? What makes it worse is that the lack of resources into a school district furthers the dis-investment of the community. If schools are “bad” then homeowners buy homes in other districts, leaving the “bad” school district to slide further and further into poverty.

I commend Lehigh County for moving towards reassessment. I commend AEDC for their work to bring industry back into the city. I challenge Lehigh County to lead an effort, blaze the trail, change the world, by fostering regional education funding. Shouldn’t fairness be our community goal?

Posted on December 10, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I didn’t start with fancy programs and lots of money invested into my programs. i started teaching in a basement. It took years to move up into the world where all the other kids and teachers were conducting their classes. I am still the professional that I had when there were no monies available and now some monies available. I bought the breakfasts, the coats, visited the homes, took them to my home. bought the supplies, went to see them at the hospital, invested the time to get them involved if their talents and passions, why i didn’t even have books but I taught and loved, respected and comforted. My students, now some are 40 continue to be involved in my life. A great educator is a great educator. I paid for my own graduate work, ran my after school programs without getting paid, chaperoned dances and even went to have lunch in the cafeteria without being on caf duty just to bond with kids I don’t have in class. I connected with community people who came in to volunteer and provide and make a difference in my classroom. I am a special education teacher who has always taught students with the capabilities that I saw in them without all the fancy footwork. There is a lot of money wasted in these programs that no one knows about except those in the trenches. If you want to put your money in the right place, then it must go to finding highly qualified teachers who move beyond themselves to fight the good fight because they have a passion for their craft–teaching isn’t a job. It is an art. Teachers aren’t made–they are born with the “right stuff”. Say what you will–this is just one teacher’s opinion who has been loving and passionate about her craft and those children who bring so much to her life that my journey will never end on being the best I can be regardless of what money is available to me. I do it because I have a gift for turning lemons into lemonade. Come visit me someday in my haven–and see joy and learning amongst the hand me downs, tattered materials, and smiling faces.

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