Today’s funding disparities are hindering the quality of our children’s education

Despite the state’s contrary argument in a fair funding lawsuit, black, brown, and low-income students succeed if they have access to adequate support and resources. For us, this is not someone’s theory and not expert opinion; this is our truth.

We are the parents of the African American School District of Abington. Our children attend schools with outdoor playgrounds for sports and games, nurses, counselors, psychologists, and school social workers. These are basic and much needed services that every school should have for its students, especially in these challenging times of COVID, which expose them to incredible stress.

In our district, more than 25% of students are black and / or Hispanic. Compared to areas with similar student demographics, Abington has the highest proportion of students who speak English and math. In the process of equitable funding, Dr. Pedro Noger, an expert on school policy and dean of the Rossi School of Education at the University of Southern California, testified that our district has made consistent progress in closing gaps in racial and socioeconomic achievement.

This is no accident. Countless studies have shown that when students receive the necessary emotional and academic support, their test scores become higher and they are more likely to graduate from high school and work in a family. As Dr. Racker Johnson, a well-known economist and expert in school finance, testified, in a fair funding lawsuit, “fair capital of school resources is an important investment to enhance student achievement.”

However, too many Pennsylvania public school students, especially colored children and poor children, do not have access to the basic tools and support needed to succeed. Here is what was revealed in the court testimony:

– 75 kindergarten students use one toilet in the Panther Valley – 1,200 students have two reading specialists in Greater Johnstown – 10,000+ students do not have mathematicians in Lancaster – 799 students have one consultant in Philadelphia – Some 5-year-olds have only 15 -minute break in William Penn due to staff shortages

This statistic hit the house. Whether in rural, suburban or urban areas, insufficient funding harms children and deprives them of what they need.

It is noteworthy that the state claims that it is not responsible for doing more. One of their lawyers had the audacity to ask the school superintendent, “What’s the use of a student at McDonald’s for a career in Algebra I?” In fact, throughout the case, the state has hinted that even with resources, children from families struggling to make ends meet, and colored children just don’t succeed.

These ignorant and ill-informed insinuations clearly ignore the data and underscore the scale of the state’s perception problem. Pennsylvania is chronically underinvesting in its low-income and color students, and is cutting its schools by $ 4.6 billion annually.

Although Pennsylvania ranks 15th in the country in terms of overall access to educational opportunities for students, it ranks lower – 47th in the country – in terms of the gap in opportunities between both white and black students and between whites and Hispanic students because the difference in resources and access is very large. Across the region, suburban school districts, where more than 50% of students are black or Hispanic, spend the least on tuition. Conversely, counties with less than 10% of blacks or Hispanics spend the most on tuition. The state is underinvesting again and again and the quixotic is waiting for a different outcome.

Like all families, Black, Brown and those who have financial problems believe in their children and want them to succeed. To do this, we need to solve problems in our schools, such as eliminating bias, encouraging colored students to challenging classes, eliminating disciplinary policies with different implications, and adequate and fair funding for public schools.

Black, brown, and low-income students perform better in well-funded schools than in underfunded schools because there are resources to provide relevant services and activities. But without sufficient funding schools cannot get these resources for students.

It’s time to stop making excuses and start investing in children. Our students and schools reflect the diversity of America; school funding must be adequate and fair in everything. Today’s disparities in funding hinder the quality of our children’s education. Let’s do better for a better tomorrow.

Shamika Brown Tomea Sipio-Smith Abington

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