To the editors:
As students head back to school, now is the time to look at public school performance and explore ways to improve.
The global economy we spoke about in the 20th century is here. Now we must create a well-educated, highly skilled workforce to enable our country to compete worldwide.
A recent Columbia University study found huge income and tax losses resulting from just one group of 18-year olds who do not complete high school. This illustrates the economic damage inflicted by poor schools and inequitable systems. We must act now!
Pennsylvania students have made significant gains in scholastic achievement. Schools have benefited from a 2008 education funding formula that makes targeted investments in districts that need it most.
These improvements are extremely encouraging, but we need to work harder. Key to that is maintaining and fully supporting a funding formula that allocates resources rationally, that reduces reliance on property taxes, and that addresses special education costs.
Improvements in the following areas can make a big difference:
- Early childhood education: Programs like Head Start and Pre-K Counts help ensure that all Pennsylvania children receive a positive educational experience.
- Teacher effectiveness: We need to ensure that every child has an effective teacher. We need to properly evaluate teacher performance, strengthen teacher training as well as evaluation, and improve standards.
- College and career readiness: By reducing the dropout rate and expanding career and technical opportunities, we can develop a workforce that can meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Fixing our public education system will require hard work, discipline, and dedication on the part of lawmakers and voters. It will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
The writer is the executive director of Education Voters Pennsylvania.