I have been writing about interventions we use in our region to help students cope with issues at school and in their lives. A more desperate situation occurs in Philadelphia. The city has a huge urban school district with problems typical of its setting. Surrounding these students and their families are violence, poverty and consequential circumstances to these pressures.
Funding: a problem involving our schools that we alone can’t fix
Though we are providing training for the staff in the Philadelphia School District to help them know how to better manage classrooms in a healthy way, there is one issue that constantly overwhelms us daily: significant underfunding.
The projected annual deficit for the Philadelphia school district is over $300 million. It is quite difficult to create any kind of learning environment with a lack of administrative help, limited number of teacher’s aids, decreased educational materials, threats of violence, and overall inability to support the needs of staff and students.
Certainly, brain-based interventions are excellent to know, but in a system overcome by financial deficits, these tools and interventions remain nearly impossible to use in a chaotic environment and little sense of order.
We have been struggling to fund our educational system in Pennsylvania.
Federal funding for education has decreased significantly, and in his first year in office Pennsylvania’s Governor Corbett reduced the state educational budget by almost $1 billion. These cuts devastated our schools, but were most hurtful to students with special needs who require more time and effort.
But the funding concern does not solely end with staffing.
As an organization that collaborates with over 30 school districts in our region, Lakeside Educational Network has felt the impact of changing policies and procedures when helping struggling students in their respective districts.
Truly, our tasks are enough when trying to meet the needs of struggling students, but financial limitations significantly compound existing issues.
However, I am extremely pleased to acknowledge Governor Corbett has requested a $400 million increase for education in block grants and other funding. Appropriation of this funding would be a huge step in the right direction to reduce statewide deficits in schools. I am hopeful that our legislators will support this proposal as a good beginning to rectify some of these deficits.
Our urban schools need so much help.
They educate thousands of students and rely on these resources to make their efforts possible. The crisis is real! The children need our support, and we must continue to be vigilant to find ways to provide the financial resources they need in order to grow and develop.
As a country I think we can do better. Still, we need political unity and strength to overcome this crisis.
I do look forward to better days: more help for our educators, administrators, families and children as they strive to find a healthy path toward growth and success in Pennsylvania. I also hope this begins a national trend of more support for our schools because of their major impact on the future of our children and families.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network