Balancing a Budget vs. Educational Aspirations

Today, several friends from the Philly Social Media Moms networking group wrote interesting and compelling blog posts on the state of education in today’s economy.

It all started with news that a school district in Pennsylvania (Upper Darby) wants to cut ALL electives in a bid to balance a budgeting gap and save some 4 million dollars. If the plan is approved, the schools within the district would lose “special” classes like art, technology, library, physical education, and music as well as 57 teachers.

It seems to me that the arguments and justifications put forth by the Assistant Superintendent  are somewhat flawed.  Let’s take a quick looksie…

“I am proposing the elimination of related arts or ‘specials’ (art, music, physical education, library) classes. Classroom teachers will teach those areas in classrooms.”

Really? I don’t know about you but that immediately brought to mind comical scenes of children doing jumping jacks in the middle of class while simultaneously learning the states and capitals. Or breaking out into musicals while practicing division.

“As painful as the loss of these fine professionals will be, we will gain valuable instructional time to improve students’ numeracy and literacy foundations.”

Wait, are we gaining instructional time or are we incorporating the “special” topics into the core curriculum? It seems to me if you incorporate the topics into the core you won’t actually be gaining any instructional time. But maybe the first statement was a weak lie and maybe kids won’t be doing jumping jacks next to their desks in class.

We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

“I am proposing character education classes to replace foreign language time in the (middle school) student schedule where students will work on goal setting, community awareness and service, academic progress, attendance, and a balanced approach to improve the character of the students who will eventually enter our Upper Darby High School.”

So a Goal Setting class? I thought we were cutting “special classes” because we have no money? Are we sure the importance of things like attendance can’t be incorporated into the core curriculum (like it already should be!)?

“Regardless of… the lack of current funding, the academic realignment proposal will better improve the overall development of our students academically and as citizens,”

So this isn’t about money after all, you actually believe this is a better plan?

Okay, look, I don’t live in this school district, I don’t know it’s history or people. But I’m pretty sure parents around the country are being fed similar bullshit.

So what do we do when things seem so hopeless? I say, at the very least, we need to CALL BULLSHIT, when we see it.

Let your school districts know, let your elected officials know, and let your neighbors know when you see and smell bullshit like this.

In the meantime, I leave you with this little tidbit:

A friend of mine has half-Iraqi children and the Iraqi Government is paying for her children to go to college in the US. Her daughter is working on a master’s degree while receiving a $2000/month living allowance … from war-torn Iraq!

And we can’t afford art class.


Read what other bloggers are saying about the declining state of our educational system:
#HeyTomCorbett: My Response to the Upper Darby School District Cuts
Education and Budget Cuts
Why Education Cuts Don’t Fly With Me
Balancing the Budget….At What Cost?
The State of Public Education in the State of PA
Public Schools and Our Kids in Pennsylvania
#HeyTomCorbett $$ for Districts!
War on Education…Students and Teachers Suffer

If you have thoughts about this school district or one near you please share or link up in the comments!



EDITED 5/22/12 TO ADD:
The children and families of Upper Darby School District are now asking for our help