As parents, we always want the best for our children; we pray for their health and happiness, and try our best to raise them to become contributing members of society. And hey, if they can eventually buy Mama a beach house, BONUS!
It takes hard work, steadfast determination, and a pinch of grace, and except for one missing ingredient, that’s a perfect recipe for success. The common denominator in our children’s success–and in my beach house–is education.
Since becoming an English teacher 12 years ago, I’ve become adept at answering the question, “Why do we need to know this anyway?!” I always tell my students education is one of the few things in life no one can take away from us, be it formal classroom training or informal first-hand experience. Unfortunately, the quality of that education is compromised due to factors kids can’t control, like the language they speak or the neighborhood in which they live.
Though they don’t always know what it’s called, when students don’t have access to things they need, like computers or a classroom set of scissors, they notice when they’re missing. We’re putting a name on these needs and it’s called Basic Education Funding (BEF).
Pennsylvania, land that I love, where oh where is our Basic Education Funding?!
A district of at-risk students who come from low-income areas deserves funding comparable to the white-collar district with a high tax base. I worked at a school that struggled to provide notebooks for our students, and mere miles down the road, another high school was thriving under government funding and tax payers’ dollars. That’s why shared fiscal responsibility among all the stakeholders is so important: it makes fair funding more plausible. There is a direct correlation between adequate funding and student success, and while money isn’t the only solution to solving the issues that currently plague our public school system, research shows it’s certainly a good place to start.
That’s also one reason why the Campaign for Fair Education Funding formed. The campaign, which is made up of more than 50 organizations that represent teachers, superintendents, church congregations, business leaders and more, wants to ensure that every public school student has access to a quality education no matter where they live.
Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only three states without a BEF formula to distribute sufficient resources both fairly and predictably. The absence of a funding formula, combined with state funding cuts in recent years, hit our students hard. According to a PASA-PASBO report, 93% of school districts reduced staff; 50% furloughed teachers or other staff; 74% cut or reduced at least one academic program; and 57% increased class size.
That right there is not a recipe for success.
It goes without saying that not having access to adequate or proper resources negatively impacts the quality of education; the lack of fair funding prohibits how and to what extent students learn. My husband and I are both teachers who ooze passion for our profession, and now that our first-born is heading into the public school system, we’re hyper-sensitive to how tax dollars and government funding is being spent.
Our son will start Kindergarten (*sob*) in the fall, and based on several transition activities we’ve attended already, coupled with his previous pre-school experiences, I chose to interview our 5-year-old about his expectations for elementary school. Let’s see if what he anticipates matches up with what’s actually available to the students in his class.
By Brady, 5
We’ve got a long way to go to properly reform public education, but giving schools and teachers the resources they need to educate their students is a logical start. I’m not naïve enough to believe funding is the only way we will achieve said reform; in my opinion, it starts at home. So to all my fellow parents patiently waiting for the day our brilliant kids are able to gift us our own beachy digs, let’s do our part: we’ve got to instill and practice the value of education in our homes. It makes a difference when we send our kids to school on a full stomach, help with homework, communicate with their teachers, and get involved in the Campaign for Fair Education Funding.
Click HERE to join and support the campaign because every child deserves the chance to succeed.