Education changes lives: Let's help the Campaign for Fair Education Funding!

The year was 1963. Mildred had graduated high school with honors. What was the next step? Today, most high-achieving students would head to college, but you have to keep in mind that this was the early sixties, and Mildred was an African-American young woman living in rural West Virginia. Her mother was a nanny and housekeeper, and her father a butcher. Going to college seemed like a long shot. 

But for Mildred's mother, it was a no-brainer.

Mildred didn't realize her full potential like her mother did. Not long after, Mildred enrolled in West Virginia State University.

To cover the tuition cost, Mildred's mother moved to New York City to work, leaving her husband and younger son behind. And Mildred - she worked hard inside and outside the classroom. Each morning, she woke up at 6 a.m. and cleaned the dormitory bathrooms. While her classmates enjoyed summer break, she picked up extra hours as a nanny and a waitress. The work paid off. Mildred graduated from college in 1967 and went on to become a social worker, and ultimately retired as a case manager at a Federal prison for women. 

Mildred is my mother.

Education has taken my family from scrubbing floors, to managing a hospital. For generations the value of education has been passed down. I earned a Master of Education degree and became an educator, blogger and podcast host. Both of my grandmother's witnessed me receiving my high school diploma and undergraduate degree. 

I became an elementary school teacher, so that I could impart that same value in education and lifelong love of learning upon other children. When given the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, allstudents can achieve. I've witnessed first-hand students from some of the poorest neighborhoods and most challenging of circumstances grow up to earn college degrees and achieve greatness both personally and professionally. Every child deserves that opportunity!

Opportunity costs money. That is why I am involved in the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, a coalition of more than 50 organizations, including teachers, superintendents, church congregations and business leaders working to ensure that every student in Pennsylvania has access to quality education, no matter where they live. 

Why YOU should get involved:

1. Pennsylvania is 1 of only 3 states without a Basic Education Funding formula. Research on school finance reform in other states found that sustained, long-term increases in per-pupil spending led to increases in educational attainment and the likelihood that poor children graduate from high school, which in turn increased future family income.

2. The current system does not fairly distribute dollars to cover the costs of educating students with different needs and additional barriers. It is widely recognized that some children, such as those living in poverty or learning English, require more support to overcome challenges and meet academic standards.

3. Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country.Per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania’s poorest districts is 33% less than in its
wealthiest districts.
 [NCES 2015]

4. The absence of a funding formula, combined with state funding cuts in recent years, hit our students hard.

  • 93% of school districts reduced staff
  • 50% furloughed teachers or other staff
  • 74% cut or reduced at least one academic program
  • 57% increased class size

[PASA-PASBO Report, January 2015]

5. Money does matter. Student performance has tracked funding level changes in Pennsylvania.A 2011 Education Law Center study found that as state education funding increased by 40% from 2003 to 2010, test scores in the lowest-achieving districts increased by 50% [Education Law Center, 2011]. Conversely, as state funding was cut since 2011 and our system grew more inequitable without a formula, state test scores dropped and the achievement gap did not close [PASBO/PASA Survey, 2015].

How YOU can get involved:

1. Support the Campaign. Sign up to receive campaign updates and information.

2. Contact Local Legislators. It only takes 5 minutes to tell your lawmakers to give students in every school a fair shot at academic success.

3. Speak Out On Social Media. Harness social media to tell your lawmakers to give students in every school a fair shot at academic success.

4. Attend an Event. Participate in Call to Action for Public Education Day on Monday, June 15. Join me on June 15 from 1-2 p.m. for a twitter chat @FairFundingPA. You can also join me and many other parents, students, teachers and community leaders across the state by attending the Rally for Fair Funding at the state Capitol in Harrisburg on Tuesday, June 23.

5. Share Your Story. The Campaign for Fair Education Funding wants to hear from students in schools across Pennsylvania about the way school funding impacts their educational experience. Through Hear Me, a youth voice platform, your children can let legislators know what resources they need to succeed. 

Visit today and join me in this very important cause!

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Disclosure: I’m teaming up with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to speak out for students across Pennsylvania. Although I am receiving some form of compensation, all opinions remain my own. #FairFundingPA