Catherine Gewertz (2008) in “Pennsylvania Lawmakers Eyeing Cost of School Finance Revamp” outlines the recent legislature actions over the education sector. A 2007 legislative costing-out study released in November reveals that, to deliver quality education, $2,500 more is needed for every child in the Keystone State. The 2008 fiscal budget amounting to $27. 2 billion provides $9. 4 billion for pre-collegiate education, 6. 1 percent more than the previous year. It also provides $75 million for 11,000 preschool students and $20 million for the expansion of full-day kindergarten programs.
Other expansion measures include: providing laptops for high school students, boosting high school coursework, expanding dual-enrollment options and foundation funding. The state board of Pennsylvania is seeking to require high school students to pass three competency exams before graduating beginning 2008. Schools need financial resources in acquiring the needed school facilities and paying teachers’ salaries. Donations from other individuas may add to the resources of schools but they are not substantially enough in the long run.
The struggles are even tougher for inner city schools where students fare less in terms of economic status compared to students studying in private learning institutions. For the most part, inner city schools depend on the financial aid mandated by the law. The United States Congress plays a key role in determining the portion of the fiscal budget that will go to the funding necessary to run public schools such as those situated in inner cities. With the growing number of prospective student, it is important to foresee the financial support and other resources needed to address the rise in the demand for education.
More importantly, financial support is direly needed in expanding the quality of education in inner city schools so that students will be able to learn substantially instead of learning minimally due to severe limitations in education resources. For K-12 inner city schools, a lot of budget cuts in the education sector will affect our available resources. The most immediate consequence is the deterioration in teaching facilities’ number or quality. A limited funding deprives students of learning materials such as books.
Another result is that K-12 schools become unable to acquire at least a decent number of computers for their students. Both books and computers greatly assist students in their learning endeavors; the inability to make use of them will only make the learning process tougher. While it may be difficult for Congress to guarantee that a computer is devoted for every student in K-12 schools, it is more disheartening if Congress still remains unable to allocate budget for at least a few computers for every K-12 school. Few available computers are better than nothing at all because students can just take their turns in using them.
For K-12 school teachers, the lack of the most relevant and updated books can hamper the ease of facilitating student learning. When teachers use outmoded books because there are no other options, it becomes more difficult for them to hand-out the most accurate information possible. Teachers cannot easily create informative lesson plans suitable to their students. With books being the primary teaching material resource, outmoded books will negatively affect the content of the lesson plans that teachers are required to make.
The article of Gewertz (2008) provides information on some of the recent developments in the education sector insofar as the Congressional budget allocation is concerned. The 2008 pre-collegiate education budget amounting to $9. 4 billion—6. 1 percent more from the previous allocation—may not be enough to cover all the financial needs of all K-12 schools across America. Nevertheless, the budget can fill some of the basic but urgent needs of these schools including my school. Part of the budget surplus can be used to purchase additional chairs or blackboards.
The increase in the budget allocation for pre-collegiate education also translates to better quality of education for K-12 students. More relevant and up-to-date books can be purchased given the same number of students. Similarly, it also translates to more students accommodated in K-12 schools. Another benefit is the possibility of raising the compensation for teachers who are qualified for the job, thereby attracting potential teachers who can deliver quality education to students. The $20 million for the expansion of full-day kindergarten programs is a helping hand for inner city schools.
The same holds true for the $75 million budget allocation for 11,000 preschool students. As for the school where I am currently teaching, the budget increase can mean more kindergarten students who will enjoy their full right to quality education. It also means that current kindergarten programs in my school will be preserved instead of being temporarily or permanently suspended. Although more students signify more work for teachers, it also means that kindergarten students will have more fellow students to interact with.
Consequently, students will not only gain formal learning; they will also have social development within the premises of the school. Part of the prospects Congress looks into is the plan to provide laptops for high school students. Even though that plan requires higher funding, I think it is only proper. I personally think that students in my school will learn more if they are able to use laptops or, at the least, desktop computers as part of their academic pursuits in Information Technology. My students may find the use of modern computers with internet connection as a whole new territory.
Nevertheless, it is just a small price to pay compared to the immense increase in the learning capabilities that they will have. With computers connected to the internet or school database, my students will gather more information most relevant to their academic requirements. Research will become easier as more sources of information are made available and access to them becomes faster. I think acquiring more computers for my school is a two-fold adjustment. On one hand, students will enjoy the benefits of gathering more information faster.
On the other hand, our students will first have to be oriented and taught about the basic skills needed to make the most out of computers, let alone operate them. The challenge for teachers’ including myself is not only to ensure that our students are able to learn many educational things out of using computers but also to ensure that they understand the basic processes behind such use. Reference Gewertz, C. (2008). Pennsylvania Lawmakers Eyeing Cost of School Finance Revamp. Education Week, 27(19), 14.