Public education threatened
“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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