Monday, December 16, 2013

An Enlightening Evening

Tonight, I had the pleasure of attending the School District of Philadelphia's Strategy, Policy and Priorities meeting. The focus was on "Student Engagement" and students, teachers, and school district staff were all in attendance. During the meeting, students shared their opinions about what needs to be improved within their schools. Staff and students discussed different perspectives on education and gained a better understanding of each other. An open dialogue between staff and students is vital. For the the first time, in a very long time, students were able to discuss how their education is managed. Improving communication between decision makers and students is the first step to bettering the Philadelphia School District and America’s education system as a whole.
Tonight’s meeting was a truly enlightening experience. We discussed everything from how students can help reconstruct the district, how adults can improve student engagement within schools, and to how we can better communication between all parties. I left the meeting with a new sense of positivity and hope for our schools. As a member of the Student Advisory Board, I would love to see this new opportunity for communication to continue. I strongly encourage students and staff to attend the next meeting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In Retrospect

As my interest in social issues develops, I am becoming more aware that my civil rights are being violated by an unequal opportunity to be educated. We live in a nation that is built on the idea that all women and men are created equal. The definition of equality is to be equal in status, rights, and opportunities. How can I say that I am equal if I am being denied educational opportunities because of the financial circumstances I was born into? You could argue that a child does not have to go to public school. However, in light of our nation’s economic standing, the majority of families in America do not have the money to send their children to private institutions, including my family. If we cannot provide children with equal educational opportunities, than those denied an adequate education are being set up to fail. Children attending underfunded public schools are being denied their constitutional right to a fair education and this is setting them back for the rest of their lives. It does not end when they graduate. Education is invaluable. Approximately 9 out of every 10 children in America attend public schools. Numerous public school districts -- some in America’s largest cities -- are being denied funding across the country. As a result, every child being “educated” in these districts is suffering and being held back because of circumstances that are out of their hands.The lack of public education funding in America will hurt the future of the nation.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Knowing Our Worth

Philadelphia public schools have been in session for approximately a month now. With the school year proceeding, despite the funding crisis, the standard of what education should be in Philadelphia has been lost. This happens quite often in our world. Something bad will occur and in that moment everyone is passionate about finding a solution, and fixing the problem. However, as time goes on and a solution isn't found, people loose interest. This seems to be the case when it comes to the education funding crisis. Students attend schools everyday that aren't equipped to fit their needs, and even though it is wrong, it continues to happen. It is crucial to the survival of public education that this problem not be accepted. With the acceptance of the issue, comes the worsening of the issue. It is personally disturbing to me that many children do not know how much they deserve the right to an education. It is time we realize our worth as human beings. We should not be given fewer opportunities than anyone else. It comes down to seeing what is wrong, and what is right. The lack of funding and care that public education receives is wrong. So what can we do about it as everyday citizens? We can realize our worth. We can fight for our basic human rights, and we can make sure that no one forgets the injustice that is taking place.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Strive. Thrive. Survive.

At last it is finally the second week of school, although it feels like the first week could have lasted a year. School is hardly recognizable this year. Everything has changed from our principal, to our schedules. The first week has truly been an adjustment period, and we are finally starting to see the effects of a stretched budget. Numerous clubs that are now student ran (if they still exist) are starting to strategize fundraising plans to hopefully save their clubs. There is no more time during the day reserved for clubs to meet as well, meaning these children (including myself) have to find time before and after school to meet, which is very difficult. Due to the laying off of teachers we had to flip our schedule up side down. Let me tell you, after following the same routine for two years it is awfully hard to adapt to longer class periods, larger class sizes, and the lack of resources and supplies in each room. From what I am told teachers aren't even given a ream of paper anymore, everything they need they must buy out of their own pocket. The art department has no budget for supplies this year and is now asking for donations from parents to order basic supplies. I started the first week very reluctant and unwilling to all of these changes. The same thought kept reoccurring in my head, "none of this had to happen if we had just been funded properly". Regardless of these immense changes, I have vowed to exceed expectations and do even better this year with what I am given. It is apparent that this fight for education is far from over and I do not plan on standing down anytime soon. My weapon in this fight is my intelligence, and I hope other students will realize this as well. Strive, thrive and survive with what you have been given. No matter how difficult it maybe SUCCEED, because it is the last thing that they are expecting from us.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Intelligence: Our most effective weapon?

I have come to the conclusion that if School District of Philadelphia presented itself to be a mecca for scholar students with immense potential, that possibly the state would want to invest in us. We have been labeled a "cesspool"according to many decision making politicians. Although our test scores may not be the highest or our graduation rates the most astounding, we have the potential to better ourselves if given the proper funding. So why not show much potential lies within this "cesspool"? Why not show Pennsylvania politicians that we are worth their precious money? The district and city has pleaded with the state, and frankly it seems that we have tried to make them pity us. Presenting our district as weak and hopeless won't get us very far. Regardless of the underfunding, why not use this as a time to prove everyone who believes Philadelphia's school district "isn't worth it" wrong? We have the power to achieve and strive. Lets not only make the best of our situation, but lets exceed our past accomplishments. We have already used our words and misfortune in this battle. Intelligence could be our most effective weapon.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A girl can dream, right?

So the more i look into colleges and do my research, the more i feel as though I'm really going to be paying for a simple piece of paper. A diploma that really just says "I paid 50,000 dollars for this piece of paper in order to get somewhere in the world, and now i will be in debt my whole life". Not to say that i don't believe college teaches you and prepares you to succeed in your profession, but why must we pay to be educated? This is a very idealistic view of the world, but wouldn't it be lovely if receiving an education was free? I believe that education is priceless, and that we are all entitled to an education. I don't believe education should be a business either, which it already is. I dream of a world that educates you beyond average and then releases you into a world in which you will thrive. Idealistically more people would be receiving an education because it is free, which would result in more people ready and willing to better the world around us. However we do not live in a perfect world, and never will. So for now i will be going through the tedious process of finding scholarships, and making the very little money that i do have stretch in order to receive my education, all while trying to accumulate as little debt as possible. Pray for me?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

PSD Student Advisory Board Creates Education Platform Targeted at Pennsylvanian Politicians

The PSD Student Advisory Board and I have finally finished our Educational Funding Platform. We are now trying to get Pennsylvanian politicians to pledge to this platform in hope that the PA education funding formula will be restored this year. Check out our platform:

Educational Funding Platform

In light of the current educational funding crisis in Philadelphia, The School District of Philadelphia Student Advisory Board has created an educational funding platform on behalf of all of the children of the School District of Philadelphia. In order to insure that our rights to an education will be fulfilled, we ask that politicians pledge to this educational funding platform, as well as include it in the future Pennsylvania education budget. It is vital that the School District of Philadelphia, and every school district in Pennsylvania will be equally funded according to the needs of their individual district. Currently, Pennsylvania is one of two states in the United States that does not use an education funding formula when distributing funds to their school districts. The lack of an education funding formula has resulted in educational funding crisis’ in districts across Pennsylvania, such as Philadelphia. As children we demand that our rights to an education be restored by any means necessary. The following is a detailed platform describing how the Pennsylvania education budget be reformed.

    • More Money Invested in Public Education: Pennsylvania must begin to invest more money in public education funding. Approximately only 35% of the total amount of money spent on public education is given by state funding. When on average other states fund public education approximately 5% more. Pennsylvania must begin to contribute more money to public education in order to properly fund all districts.
    • Restoration of a Fair Funding Formula: In order to insure that the money being spent on public education is being distributed equally, a funding formula must be restored within the Pennsylvania education budget. The formula must take into account the needs of each district. This includes the number of students within each district, the poverty rate of each district, the number of students with disabilities, the number of English language learners, and the districts ability to acquire local revenue. All of the data being taken into account for each district must be current and accurate.
    • Transparency: The education budget of Pennsylvania and education formula must be recorded and made available for the public to view it.
    • Monitoring Success: The state should be reviewing student data frequently in order to determine if the district should be receiving more funding. This will insure that each district will be performing better and accomplishing its educational goals. It is the state’s responsibility to be sure that each child is receiving an adequate education in direct result of proper funding.

Our rights to an education must be restored and the key to restoring our rights lies within this platform. Again we ask that Pennsylvania politicians vow to incorporate this platform in the 2013- 2014 and future education budgets of Pennsylvania.

The School District of Philadelphia Student Advisory Board
The School District of Philadelphia Students