Petition to City of Philadelphia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania officials demanding adequate education funding
The School District of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission has recently declared that it will be closing twenty three schools throughout the city. In addition to school closures, the School District’s plan calls for drastic budget cuts which will negatively affect all public school students in the City. This is all an attempt to eradicate a deficit faced by the School District over the next five years. The extreme budget cuts include the termination of 676 teachers and the elimination of funds towards counselors, office staff and noon time-aides, extra-curricular activities, books and supplies, music programs, art programs, sports programs and countless other valuable services. Even the most basic analysis of the proposed budget will make any sensible person question whether it is possible to run a school with the extraordinarily limited resources that will remain. Saving money may sound good on its face, but when it results in major disadvantages to our entire public school student population, is it really worth it?
Rising seniors and incoming freshmen are especially affected by the catastrophic budget cuts. The reduction of teachers and mass school closures will lead to classroom overcrowding. Student to teacher ratio will increase significantly, thereby making it more difficult for many students to learn at the typical rate. Increasing class size will also make fostering positive and personal relationships between teacher and student much more challenging and less likely.
As a rising high school senior, I am worried about the elimination of guidance counselors and noon time aides. Students must now fend for themselves in situations where in prior years they could call upon a counselor for assistance. Without counselors, how can a senior seek professional guidance on questions regarding the college search, application, visitation, and financial aid processes? My school may not have nearly as many resources as other schools, but we are fortunate to have a professional, courteous, and capable staff that cares for each and every student and goes above and beyond the call of duty to see that our needs are not only met, but exceeded. Noon time aides assist teachers in the lunch room, the hallways, and the main office during the times when teachers are not available. These aides help provide a sense of safety within the school. They patrol the hallways, identify problems, and are responsible for reacting and resolving high tension situations as quickly as possible. With the proposed budget cuts my school would only have enough money to afford to pay a secretary in the office one day a week. At Parkway Center City High School, we consider ourselves one big family. The proposed budget cuts will not only remove necessary staff members and resources from our school, they will also negatively affect the caring family environment that has been created and that means so much to us.
Sports and extra- curricular activities are a huge aspect of a student’s experience here at Parkway. At Parkway we offer over a dozen sport and extra-curricular activities opportunities. At least two fifths of the student body participates in one or more sports throughout the school year. In turn, eradicating financial support for athletics would deny exceptional athletes not only scholarships but access to colleges to which they may not have exposure absent their athletic talent. Extra-curricular activities at Parkway serve as creative outlets and stellar opportunities for students to separate themselves from the pack when applying to the colleges of their choice.
In addition to the City of Philadelphia cutting our budget, the State has slashed the education budget by $900 million but has somehow found $400 million dollars to build a new prison. This is an amazing fact when you consider that more than one quarter of the incarcerated population in Pennsylvania come from Philadelphia. The majority of Philadelphia public school students come from low income families who do not have the means to provide their children with many of the resources available to wealthier families. President Barack Obama stated "Our public education system is the key to opportunity for millions of children and families. It needs to be the best in the world. Of particular concern is the growing achievement gap between middle and low-income students, which has continued to expand despite some overall national achievement gains." Sadly, it seems as though Philadelphia’s public school students are being set up for failure. When we are provided with extremely limited resources and you gradually strip even more of them from us, what opportunities are you really leaving us with?
As the student government Vice President and a member of Citywide Student government, I have taken an oath to be the voice of my school and advocate not only for what the students want, but more importantly what we need. Therefore, I shall not let the passing of the "doomsday" budget cuts which will be imposed upon our beloved schools go unnoticed or unopposed. I have proudly taken the burden of being the voice of the entire student body, staff, and faculty of the School District Of Philadelphia.
- This is our grievance –
Thomas Corbett, Governor of Pennsylvania and Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, we call upon you both to uphold your promise as the chief executives of our state and city to advocate for the Peoples’ needs. The closing of schools and extreme budget cuts have their drawbacks. School closings will cause the dropout rate to increase. It is well established that seventy-five percent of all crimes are committed by high school dropouts. Spending money on the education of our youth now is not only the right thing to do, it will inevitably save future expenditures for police, courts, and prisons. Clearly our society will be much better off with more young people at Penn State than in the State Pen. Despite this obvious premise, you both sit idly by while money is subtracted from education to be used for the construction and expansion of prisons. Anyone with common sense understands that increasing our investment in education will lead to a lower dropout rate and less crime. Most of us may be too young to vote you out of office, but our parents, family, and friends are not. We demand that our voice be heard as we are the ones who will pay the price for the irresponsible decisions that you make.