Several weeks ago, Governor Tom Corbett revealed his proposed budget for our state. We all waited with baited breath, and then, not entirely unexpected, it was as bad as we thought it was going to be. He cut and cut and cut. The big businesses and entities that he could have proposed levying taxes on, or increasing existing taxes on, didn’t happen–but that’s another post for another day.
Bottom line–there are significant cuts to education and social services, which affects all of us.
Upper Darby School District, which is in Delaware County on the western side of Philadelphia, responded by proposing that ALL “specials” get cut–music, art, gym and so on. All of them. From the Delco Times Newspaper:
- “the recommendation of Superintendent Lou DeVlieger to reduce staff by 64 positions effective July 1. The teaching positions eliminated include 10 art, 13.5 music, 10 physical education, 10 library science, 2.5 social studies, 2.6 math, 3 English, 1 process skills, 6.5 foreign language, 4.5 technical education, .6 science, 1 reading and .6 family and consumer science.”
Of course, if you don’t live in or near Upper Darby, you might be saying “Whew! So glad I don’t live there, glad that’s not my district.” But here’s the thing–they’ve opened the gate. They’ve set the bar. As shocking as this is, you’re not going to be as shocked when you hear about another distict doing it, are you?
Just because a class such as art or music is perceived as being more fun than science or math, does not mean that it is not essential. I could go on and on, citing all kinds of studies and statistics–studies that show that students who pursue a musical instrument tend to do better in other academic areas, how art therapy is a research based therapy. And with the youth obesity problem we have in our society today…how can you even begin to say that Phys Ed is not important or not essential? How? How can you even begin to justify that LIBRARY is not essential? How? And foreign languages-students that are multi-lingual tend to do better overall in reading and writing. If Phys Ed is determined to be non-essential, is Special Ed next? Maybe that sounds extreme, I don’t think it does. Sure, they may not cut Special Ed as a program, but expect class sizes to increase and the Special Ed “specials” like social groups and adaptive PE to go away, why not? Special Ed funding is going down while numbers of kids diagnosed with disabilities is rising–does that make any sense at all?
This is our canary in the coal mine–and we must all stand behind Upper Darby, and tell our politicians and our superintendents and administrators that this is NOT ok. We need to tell them that we want them to work smarter and stop catering to big businesses. That we do not want the state’s budget balanced on the backs of our children, and our future. This affects everyone because it’s going to start a viscious cycle. The families in Upper Darby are now trapped, they’ll never be able to sell their homes for a fair price. This can have a ripple effect on the entire region if you essentially trap one set of people in their homes, they do not buy other or bigger homes, thus decreasing the pool of potential buyers in all districts.
It’s time for all of us to wake up, stand up, and pay attention to what is going on in our schools–attend school board meetings and take an active role in this. We have elections about six months from now, we all need to find out what school board seats are open, who is running for them and what their positions on the issues are. We have many State House and State Senate races open this fall, again we need to take an active role in looking at who you are voting for.
If you’re not inspired yet, please take the time to watch this video, and I challenge you to not be fired up afterwards!