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Put that census money to better use, in the Philly schools

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Another guest blog this week. This is from the April 14 SRC meeting where Shaquille McKnight of E. Washington Rhodes High School spoke about the importance of investing in District schools. She was the second place winner in the Citywide Student Government Census Oratorical Contest. Here's the speech that earned her 2nd place: 


The United States Government census will take place this year. A census counts the current population in each state to determine how much government funding each state will receive. The 2010 census money will go to jobs, schools, health, buildings, transportation, and education.

Schools are one of my city’s biggest problems. Students attending school in the School District of Philadelphia have limited opportunities because of poverty in our neighborhoods. Many schools lack supplies of books, qualified teachers and enough space for the many students that attend, and the quality and quantity of the food is a disgrace.

Without enough books students are unable to learn the necessary concepts. We cannot practice skills at home because there are not enough books to take home and we have to sometimes share books in class. Because our education is not equal we are not getting the same opportunities as students in other schools and our performance in the world may not be as good as possible if this problem is not fixed.

We also have a problem with teachers. We do not have enough teachers and some of the teachers we have quit due to low compensation or being overwhelmed by too many students and not enough staff or space. Every year that I have been enrolled in high school and middle school I have lost a teacher and none of them has ever been replaced.

We end up with substitutes that just sit in the class, but barely teach and we never get the work. There are over 30 students in my class and it is already hard to learn and when a teacher leaves, 30 of us are left without a proper education. Without the option of a good education the world would have no one to do the jobs that are necessary or important.

During the course of this year alone I have experienced a lack of connection with the staff members at my school. The nurse is sometimes unable to help you when you are injured or don’t feel well. The principal and teacher tend to be overly strict with us when it is not called for because they are stressed. The unstoppable stress and frustration the staff experiences can restrain a student’s education.

Therefore, to solve this problem I think the census money should be spent on the schools in this District. It could be used to add teachers and staff to schools, pay teachers more and to add books for every student. This would create a stable learning environment and help students get the chances and options that we currently lack. A better education for us will lead to more college graduates, better workers for the city and less poverty and crime in our neighborhoods.

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