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Philadelphia Students Write Letters Asking to 'Fully Fund My Education'

Philadelphia Students Write Letters Asking to 'Fully Fund My Education'

Philadelphia, the eighth largest district in the nation, has been battling school funding issues for the past few years to the disadvantage of the city's students, teachers, and parents. Students across different grade levels and school systems have taken to the internet to explain why funding their schools is important to them.

To provide an idea of just how bad the Philadelphia budget crisis was and still is, in 2013, "the district superintendent announced that schools might not open on time, as severe budget cuts had led to insufficient staffing," according to EducationNext.org.

"The budgets of many individual schools allowed for no counselors, no secretaries to assist principals or answer telephones, and no arts or sports programs."

This was the result of major cuts made in the 2012 school year because the district was forced to cut 17 percent of is workforce (2,000 teachers), and the reason behind this revealed itself to be myriad of things.

The root of the issue, however, is that the overall formula through which Philadelphia allocates its education money is faulty and is responsible for the district coming up short year after year. Currently, the district has until June 2015 to decide on a new "fair funding formula," and the goal is to enact the formula for the 2016-2017 school year, according to TheNotebook.org

In the meantime, students are reacting.

On the Philly.com, students like Sarah Santiago, a 10th grader at a charter school in the district, share why their education is important.

"Fully fund my education because I want to be a leader, and I want to be a leader without having to be looked down upon because I am female and a Latina. I feel and see the problems that are happening in my community firsthand, and I know how to go about fixing them," Santiago said.

Synia Boyer, a 7th grader at the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School/String Theory Middle School, said that she loves attending her school and is proud of what she has accomplished there, but that improvements need to be made nonetheless. Her school, she said, doesn't have money for a middle school gymnasium.

The district also isn't able to provide buses for her school, "only trans-passes, which is risky. It is dangerous because students have to cross busy intersections to get to the school building. Due to budget cuts, my school had to pay for its own buses, which cost a lot of money to be used that could have been used on different things for the students," Boyer wrote.

These letters are a glimpse into the desire of Philadelphia's students to learn, and also an indication of the unfortunate reality that the district's on-going budget crisis has an impact that every student feels.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

05/15/2015

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