Funding Nightmares in Philadelphia Schools

Written by Patricia Hawke for www.schoolsk-12.com

 A lot has been said and written about the funding crisis that Philadelphia schools are facing. Apparently, most Philadelphia public schools and over 90% of the entire state’s schools could very well do with more funding. After all, a good education is one of the fundamental rights of all children in this country.
 
 
How Bad is the Situation in Philadelphia Schools?
 
It is reported that the currently the Philadelphia School District is faced with a more than $200 million shortfall in funding. Philadelphia schools, though not unfamiliar with this scenario, are in no position to handle it this time around. They are faced with having to hand out more pink slips to their staff besides having to put up with several infrastructure-related issues.
 
Even the best Philadelphia schools don’t have librarians and nurses. To make matters worse, the schools are under a lot of pressure to prepare their students to enter an economy with plush white-collar jobs. How are they ever going to achieve that with 30-plus students per classroom?
 
Decreasing and differential teachers’ salaries are other sticky issues that Philadelphia schools are battling with. Teachers in well-to-do suburbs are paid much more than their counterparts in the poorer areas. This is hardly any motivation for teachers who put in the same amount of hard work and most often under more difficult circumstances.
 
 
Disparities in Funding in Philadelphia Schools
 
An undeniable angle to the disparities in funding of Philadelphia schools is that of racism. School districts with a predominantly Afro-American or Latino population end up receiving step-motherly treatment. These districts are usually the least funded. Since the state funding for Philadelphia schools is as low as 35% they are heavily dependant on local funding. So, non-white neighborhoods which are usually inhabited by middle-class and lower middle-class families who also don’t speak English are the ones who bear the brunt. They find themselves at the receiving end at all times.
 
 
The Way Forward for Philadelphia Schools
 
One of the proposed solutions has been to move money from the well-to-do (and above-average performing) schools to their poorer cousins. That is a classic case of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul! The argument in favor of this proposal is that some of the Philadelphia schools that are in the top schools of the country are not always the most funded.
 
In other words, good performance of Philadelphia Schools is not as deeply entwined with funding as you would like to believe. However, if you were to apply some simple logic, the best resolution of this crisis lies in increasing state funding to Philadelphia schools. How much more time has to pass before the legislators see the light of day is anybody’s guess!
 
 

Articles