Pa. education funding hits where it hurts

At Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, a Philadelphia middle school serving 541 children – 80 percent of whom come from low-income families – things like textbooks, recess equipment and even school nurses have become a luxury they simply can’t afford.

Due to an 8 percent drop in education funding since 2011 and a rise in pension cost, Feltsonville has a deficit of nearly $81 million, according to an Oct. 14 New York Times article.

The changes in education funding under Gov. Tom Corbett have resulted in drastic cuts for several Pennsylvania school districts, according to an Aug. 30 AxisPhilly article, many of which that were hurting for funds to begin with. A change in the school funding formula, according to the article, resulted in the low-income schools losing money, while additional money was awarded to 21 school districts “located in the districts of legislators who were either on legislative appropriation or education committees.”

“Feltonville alone has lost 15 teachers, two assistant principals, two guidance counselors, an office secretary, three campus police officers, 10 aides who supervised the cafeteria and hallways and an operations officer, who oversaw most of the school’s day-to-day logistics,” according to the New York Times.

“I am not a volunteer, and I am not a saint,” said Amy Roat – a 20-year veteran who works with children learning English as a second language at Feltonville – in the Oct. 14 article. “I am a teacher.”

Within the last two years, Philadelphia has lost 5,000 staff positions and closed 31 schools. Without proper funding, it is impossible for schools and administrators, not only in Pennsylvania, to educate effectively.

Government officials need to make an effort to preserve the conditions in which we send our children to school. A child’s learning environment can be just as effective as the material they are taught in the classroom, and if we continue to deprive children of a stable and comfortable learning environment, we are taking away their motivation to learn at all.

In order to keep children interested in school and education, you need to provide them with proper tools and a safe and constructive environment. For some, school is the only constant thing they have. Taking that away isn’t doing anyone any good.

Taking away education funding drives away good students who want to learn and good teachers who want to teach them.