Pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion threat­ened

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - OPINION -

“Death by a thou­sand cuts” is one way to look at what is hap­pen­ing with Penn­syl­va­nia pub­lic schools.

With each pass­ing year, the chances in­crease that a child will be in class with more students than the year be­fore.

7hDW sDPH FhLOd’s FhDnFH RI WDNLnJ D fiHOd WrLS, OHDrnLnJ how to play a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment or even at­tend­ing kinder­garten are de­creas­ing just as quickly.

7hH find­LnJs RI D rHFHnW sWDWHwLdH surYHy Ey WhH 3HnnsyOYDnLD AssRFLDWLRn RI 6FhRRO BusLnHss 2IfiFLDOs Dnd WhH Penn­syl­va­nia As­so­ci­a­tion of School Ad­min­is­tra­tors show what lo­cal head­lines re­veal dur­ing bud­get sea­son: School dLsWrLFWs rHsSRnd WR finDnFLDO sWrHss Ey FuWWLnJ HOHFWLYHs, Wu­tor­ing and teach­ers.

Re­cent years have shown in­creas­ing dilem­mas and strug­gles in area schools as mu­sic and art pro­grams, sports, and clubs are on the chop­ping block. In­deed, many say elec­tives and ex­tracur­ric­u­lars of­fered in pub­lic school are un­nec­es­sary and a lux­ury tax­pay­ers should not have to fund.

But par­ents, teach­ers and ed­u­ca­tional ex­perts point to the pos­i­tive ef­fect and dis­ci­pline that ex­tracur­ric­u­lars in­still in students. Cut­ting them is a step back­ward.

The sur­vey re­leased in Au­gust in­cluded more than half of Penn­syl­va­nia’s 500 school dis­tricts and showed that HxWrD-Fur­rLFuODr DFWLYLWLHs OLNH fiHOd WrLSs Dnd sSRrWs, DORnJ with kinder­garten and other early ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts, are be­ing cut across the state to bal­ance the books.

In the last two years, 20,000 po­si­tions have been cut; 47 per­cent of them teach­ers.

The sur­vey co­in­cided with news that Penn­syl­va­nia PSSA scores de­clined in the past year. State Sen. An­drew Din­ni­man, D-1V, and the two state groups re­late the two trends.

“The re­sults of this sur­vey clearly in­di­cate that ad­e­quate ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing mat­ters to the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion our students re­ceive,” said Din­ni­man. “School dis­tricts are faced with dire choices, forced to cut kinder­garten, in­crease class size, cut tu­tor­ing and sum­mer school pro­grams. This, in turn, di­min­ishes aca­demic achieve­ment in our schools.” There is no easy so­lu­tion. It’s not just a loss of state fund­ing, which is cer­tainly a fac­tor, as is the tax cap which keeps dis­tricts from rais­ing locally ad­di­tional fund­ing. It is also the loom­ing pen­sion costs which are be­hind state fund­ing short­falls and the im­pact that char­ter schools and cy­ber-char­ter schools have on in­di­vid­ual dis­trict bud­gets, all of which are con­tribut­ing IDFWRrs WR WhH sORw sWrDnJOLnJ RI SuEOLF sFhRRO finDnFHs.

Add in the co­nun­drum of tax­a­tion based on real es­tate, which has di­min­ished val­ued in this econ­omy, and the fund­ing cri­sis is ex­ac­er­bated. The thou­sand cuts take their toll. “Pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion is the foun­da­tion of our democ­racy,” said Wil­liam LaCoff, Owen J. Roberts School Board mem­ber. “vou need an ed­u­cated pop­u­lace to make good de­ci­sions about the na­tion’s fu­ture and ed­u­ca­tion is ex­pen­sive. If we have no pub­lic schools, or if they are the school of last re­sort, not ev­ery­one is go­ing to get an ed­u­ca­tion and then we have a per­ma­nent un­der-class? That’s the last thing we want.”

Pub­lic schools rep­re­sent the fu­ture of our na­tion; we PusW find D PHDns RI DdHTuDWHOy IundLnJ SuEOLF sFhRROs Rr that fu­ture is threat­ened.

-Jour­nal Reg­is­ter News Ser­vice

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