Disclosure: I’m teaming up with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to speak out for students across Pennsylvania. Although I am receiving some form of compensation, all opinions remain my own. #FairFundingPA
“Should a student’s zip code determine the quality of education that he/she receives?”
I sought to answer this question recently during the #FairFundingPA Twitter Chat, and it’s a question that I imagine most of you would answer with a resounding, “No.” However, the quality of education does depend on a student’s zip code, and there is a great team of people working to change that.
Why it Matters to Me
My son will be entering Kindergarten in the Fall. He is my first born, which means he will be my first to enter into the public school system. This in and of itself makes me nervous, but I am lucky that he’s enrolled in a “good” school district. We are fortunate to live in a school district with adequate funding and resources, and I can’t imagine having no choice but to send my son to a sub-par school.
I have seen those schools and worked in them. I worked one-on-one with children with mental health disorders through a non-profit organization, and many of those children came from low income areas and attended poorly funded schools. It was hard to see what those children were up against. It was hard to see the teachers fighting for their students with no support. It was hard to see Kindergarteners with great potential turn into second graders who had already fallen behind.
In these lower income schools, teachers were buying their own supplies – storybooks, crayons, play dough, hand sanitizer, and more. Special education classrooms were a place to corral the children rather than educate them. In one instance, the Diagnostic Kindergarten teacher was looking for additional therapeutic resources and support from the administration. The principal’s response was to deny her request and instead make comments about “spanking the Autism” out of the kids. There was not enough funding to provide proper classroom resources nor to hire high quality administrators and teachers.
Seeing the contrast between the two districts and understanding what every child deserves is why I am so glad to be partnering with The Campaign for Fair Education Funding as an ambassador to help spread their message.
Why it Matters to You
Whether you are a parent or not, improving our education system benefits our communities directly. This issue may affect some more than others, but the impact will be felt in years to come one way or another. It is not hard to see the correlation between a good education and a bright future. Quality education can reduce crime rates, improve communities, and create a better future. According to EducationVotersPA.org, “A one-year increase in average years of schooling for dropouts would reduce murder and assault by almost 30 percent, motor vehicle theft by 20 percent, arson by 13 percent, and burglary and larceny by about 6 percent.” These statistics are powerful, and better funding is one way that we can keep children interested and involved in their education.
If you look past how this issue will affect your own life, you will see a greater need. Children deserve the chance at a quality education. They deserve to have resources and funding to keep up with the children in the other neighborhoods. Teachers should not have to pay for materials out of their own pockets when business men have company credit cards. Funding education should come before many other programs because it will have such a positive effect on so many other areas.
What are the Facts?
(The following info & more can be found at FairFundingPA.org)
- Pennsylvania is 1 of only 3 states without a Basic Education Funding (BEF) formula.
- The current system does not fairly distribute money to cover the costs of educating students with different needs and additional barriers.
- Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country. Per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania’s poorest districts is 33% less than in its wealthiest districts.
- Money does matter. Student performance has tracked funding level changes in PA.
- BEF is so unpredictable that school districts cannot effectively budget or plan.
- Without a funding formula, ALL students will suffer: rural, city, suburban, and small town.
What Can You Do?
The good news is that by showing your support now, you can make a big difference in this campaign. The Campaign for Fair Education Funding has a few effective yet simple steps that you can take to show your support.
Head to FairFundingPA.org to do the following:
- Sign up to receive campaign updates. Simply enter your email address to continually receive the latest information regarding this important issue.
- Contact your State Legislatures. FairFundingPA.org has made this very simple. There is a pre-written email that you can send to your lawmakers, or you can write one of your own. It took me about one minute to put in my zip code & send the email.
- Speak out on social media using the hashtag #FairFundingPA. Lawmakers are paying attention to social media more so than ever before. FairFundingPA.org has set up an easy way to find your State Representative and Senator’s Twitter handles, & then encourage you to tweet them with the hashtag #FairFundingPA
- Share your story. The Campaign for Fair Education Funding wants to hear from students as well. Hear Me is a youth voice platform where your children can let legislators know what resources they need to be successful.
- Participate in an event. See below for details…
The next event is the Rally for Fair Funding happening on June 23rd, 2015! Hundreds of parents, students, teachers, and community leaders are gathering to support the cause in Harrisburg. If you would like to come to the Rally for Fair Funding, fill out this form and someone from the campaign will get in touch with you.
If you cannot come to the Rally in person, please join us on Twitter using #FairFundingPA! The Campaign for Fair Education Funding will be live tweeting the event from noon-1 p.m on June 23rd.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about this cause, and for taking the time to share your own views on the topic. Can’t wait to make a difference with you all.