Funding, budget issues, program cuts. These can be part of any story, and in this case it’s practically in every education story you read. So are innumerous mentions of standardized test scores dropping, and the “summer brain drain” problem.
The Evening Sun reports that the passing of Pennsylvania’s 2012-2012 budget eliminated funding for the Local Education and Resource Effort (LEARN) program.
The goal of LEARN was to promote children’s development before school by educating parents in early learning methods.
But it’s not just the state’s LEARN program that got axed.
Last week the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Philadelphia School District stopped offering free summer classes because it’s broke. Luckily $6,000 was raised by Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church and the Queen Village Neighborhood Association to keep a half-day summer school operating. And the classes are free.
The problem with summer vacation, as various papers throughout the country have noted, is the severe loss in academic retention especially among lower-income groups (read minority students/English-language learners). Students typically fall 1-3 months behind academically, and politicians and educators alike are throwing up a shit storm over how bad standardized test scores get with every grade level.The U.S. is no longer performing at it’s highest potential compared to international schools, and our leaders are embarrassed.
The Evening Sun article mentioned above reports that $5 million in funding for LEARN was eliminated, and the Inquirer reports that the Philadelphia district cut $700 million in 2011-2012 which eliminated summer school.
The newspapers are reporting states are slashing their budgets left and right. Money is tight. But $700 million in cuts to programs that are essential in fostering well-educated, future members of society? And why are program cuts always accompanied with doom-and-gloom sniffles of poor test scores? Why is it not enough to just have an outcry over the elimination of early learning, summer, and after school enrichment programs?
If the drop in test scores and the summer “brain drain” are serious concerns of local and state officials, I would think more would be done to save education-related programs, even enrichment programs like arts. But that’s not what I’m reading in the many news articles being posted around the Internet.
The Evening Star article also noted that LEARN, a state initiative, used to be funded by the Department of Public Welfare, and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning.
With increasing opinions on eliminating the “welfare state” and diverting funding away from essential public services and programs, I’m wondering if we’re not seeing some sick shift away from public service. This line of thinking may be a stretch, but in light of the various people making their voices heard on “socialist” programs, it’s a valid concern.
Some programs may be nonessential, but I seriously doubt summer school programs, and anything pertaining to educating society’s youth—and even uneducated adults—constitutes nonessential.
I guess what I’m saying is, don’t be surprised if kids’ test scores take a dive off the cliff after more and more programs get snipped. And don’t be surprised if our education rankings internationally plummet to the recesses of faildom, and other countries surpass the U.S. in terms of intellect in overall population.
• Doublethink: The Creativity-Testing Conflict (Education Week, July 17, 2012).
• The hard bigotry of poverty: Why ignoring it will doom school reform (The Answer Sheet, July 17, 2012).
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