No arts, music, or phys. ed for Allentown students
Gov. Tom Corbett's devastating cuts to public school funding caused a crisis in our public schools - and for many districts, things are getting worse.
Corbett's cuts slashed more than $10 million in state funding for the Allentown School District in 2011, resulting in the elimination of more than 200 teaching positions, increased class sizes, and cuts to programs that work for students.
These funds have not been completely restored, and this year, continuing to face financial crisis, the district proposed the elimination of 144 additional teaching positions. The proposed cuts would eliminate elementary art, music, library and physical education, reduce middle school arts and physical education by half, and drastically increase class sizes at all levels. English as a Second Language support would be reduced.
Video: Our Kids Deserve Better
Jen Rarick, a middle school music teacher in Allentown, is outraged by the impact of funding cuts on her students.
"I was furloughed in the spring of 2011 and fortunately was called back to work that July. I felt hopeless during that time – like nobody cared about art and music. People didn't seem to understand what these cuts will do to our schools. I feel like we really need to start standing up for our students, especially now, given the new cuts that have been proposed."
Rarick produced a video and uploaded it to YouTube. The format of the video is simple, but her message contains a heartbreaking illustration of funding cuts' impact on her students. In less than 48 hours, the video recorded thousands of views.
Rarick hopes the video will encourage others to get involved and speak up for students. "I know my job is on the chopping block this year, but the kids are really the ones I am worried about. I can find a new job, but what will happen to them without art, music, and phys. ed?"
Allentown educators rally for public education
On March 21, Allentown's School Board met to discuss the proposed cuts. Before the meeting, a crowd of educators, support professionals, parents, public officials, and education advocates held a rally to protest the proposed cuts. Educators from Reading, Bethlehem, Easton, and other nearby communities joined the rally, along with Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. "I came here because I have to speak up," Pawlowski said.
"It is no coincidence that Gov. Tom Corbett's billion dollar cuts to public education hits our city schools the hardest across Pennsylvania," said Deb Tretter, president of the Allentown Education Association. "Since he took office, the governor has done nothing but chop away at the educational opportunities of our poorest children, balancing the budget on those who are most vulnerable and least able to stand up for themselves.
"We need to send a message to Harrisburg and to our school board that we are willing to stand up for our students."
Find out how the governor's cuts impact your school district at www.psea.org/schoolcuts.