I don’t usually post about our local situation since my audience can be much broader than just the Greater Philadelphia region. However, I also know that many of our states, municipalities and school districts have similar budgetary problems as we, and raised awareness is ever important in how we navigate a difficult economic environment. So, I am talking about funding for education today.
Due to serious budget cuts many of our schools are in jeopardy of becoming places of despair.
Poor quality education, huge percentages of students who drop out, lack of materials, inadequate staff and supervision, and rising academic, emotional and relational needs of students can and do contribute to some scary and stifling realities.
In the Philadelphia School District, there is an immediate need for over $300 million in order to sustain the budget. We have a major city-wide educational crisis on our hands due to massive lay-offs of thousands of staff. The result will leave our students, families and remaining staff completely engulfed in struggle for each school environment. Politicians are throwing up their hands because the answers to bridge this financial gap is formidable.
The need for early childhood education
Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims writes these words, “Every dollar we spend on early childhood education comes back into the economy many times over. Some studies indicate (PDF) a return on investment in pre-K education as high as seven times. Second, increasing educational funding leads to higher performance as well as less requisite government spending on incarceration and crime prevention.
Proven benefits of educational funding
Increased education funding literally adds years to the lives of our students who are our future workforce, as it extends the years which they work, earn, and pay into the economy. Further, increasing educational funding creates the types of schools that spawn innovation and expertise necessary to compete in a global environment.
Not only that, but better education is linked to more secure, longer-lasting personal relationships.
In short, more educational funding means not just brighter students, it means smarter, happier, more productive workers, who live longer, healthier, and more industrious lives.”
More and more I hear of schools facing such issues.
The fear and anxiety these issues cause is more than overwhelming for students, families and communities. I personally am concerned about the emotional and relational environments that exist in many of our schools.
It is very hard to deal with emotional and relational issues when there are few or no counselors, teacher assistants and administrators who can help and support our students to reach their academic goals. Just the issue of inadequate supervision will give rise to increased incidences of bullying, violence and other negative behaviors in our students.
Do we want our students to ask: Why go to school when it is such a place of inadequacy, fear and dysfunction?
They are normal children and adolescents who need guidance, safety and a place to grow and mature in all phases of life. We as a community of leaders, politicians, educators, parents and mentors need to be involved in these serious issues and in the lives of the students that we touch each and every day.
Our children often have confusion and difficulty navigating what they must deal with daily. Too much stress and anxiety can often lead them to turn to other sources — often undesirable and unhealthy ones — for peer support.
I urge all of our legislators and educational community to fight for adequate funding and quality educational environments for our students. The investment will pay us back many times over as we prevent devastating consequences to families and create opportunities for our children to succeed and become responsible and productive citizens.
It is a fight worth our energy and effort country-wide.