By Zeynep Ozdener
Recently Philadelphia has been under national scrutiny. Unfortunately, this white hot spotlight has centered around the education policies of the state of Pennsylvania. As public funding for education decreases, public schools in Philadelphia are suffering.
In light of these budget cuts, many Philadelphian parents have taken to writing complaint letters to Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education. In fact, over 250 such letters have been sent in just the last week, and another 100 are expected to be formally filed within the next seven days. While around 43 percent of public education funding usually comes from the state nationwide, in Pennsylvania, it is only around 35 percent.
Overall, Pennsylvania is tenth on the list of least state-funded schools in America. This has caused a shortage of necessary school guidance counselors, arts programs, and even language programs for immigrant students. Indeed, over 3,000 public school employees were let go before the 2013-2014 school year began.
In my opinion, parents have every right to be outraged, and it is a solid, if small, first step that they are complaining to the proper authorities. However, as far as options go, Pennsylvania does not have many. In order to add almost 50 extra million dollars to the public education budget, the City Council has just today approved of a plan to purchase vacant properties from Philadelphia’s school district. However, Mayor Nutter has expressed disapproval, stating that the idea has many failings.
Whether or not he is actually right (Lord knows he has been wrong about many things in the past), $50 million has been allocated to the public school system, and already some of the laid-off employees have been re-employed. Hopefully, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania as a whole will be able to crawl out of this education-funding rut they have recently been in.