It’s been said that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it definitely buys textbooks, desks, lockers, computers, supplies, refurnished buildings, tools for special needs children to learn, sports equipment and a college education, to name a few.
President Barack Obama’s recent education stimulus package will pump about $150 billion into elementary schools, high schools and colleges across the country.
This will happen over the course of two years. It will nearly double the current budget, prevent countless teacher layoffs and contribute funding to the country’s 15,000 school districts and thousands of college campuses. The money will support a wide range of projects, including special education programs, school renovation, better technology, and grants for college students.
Finally, it will be money well spent. Maybe we should have an economic meltdown every time we need something done around here.
Naturally, a plan involving money spent on legitimate education plans (the No Child Left Behind Act didn’t exactly work wonders) faced some opposition from Republicans, particularly “wasteful spending” on projects like school construction, according to the New York Times.
Any inner-city resident can kindly explain that school reconstruction is not wasteful. Dilapidated schools have tangible effects on students and their willingness to learn. What child would want to learn if crammed into an overcrowded classroom with few desks and no textbooks?
“We actually have students that give fake addresses because [parents] want their children to be in a better school,” said a high school German teacher who wishes to remain anonymous.
She teaches at a school about 20 minutes outside Philadelphia.
“While I do not work in a school that is literally falling apart, unfortunately, that’s what happens in the inner city,” she said.
While the teacher is in favor of the stimulus plan, she does remain skeptical, particularly about the two-year time frame of the plan. She also believes there is more to improving schools than cash, and parent involvement is at the top of the list.
“They could be putting millions of dollars into the schools in Philadelphia, but without the parents backing the students…what’s going to happen in two years?” she said.
In 2007, Philadelphia ranked 60th out of 64 districts in Southeastern Pennsylvania on money spent per student, with an average of $11,078 per student. Lower Merion ranked the highest, spending an average of $21,399 per student, according to the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.
The numbers speak for themselves. America’s education system needs this money. Otherwise, where is the hope for a brighter future amidst tough economic times? Schools educate the future by educating the students. Maybe through better funding, schools can develop innovative ways to teach students to enjoy learning — and parents, too.
“You can spend trillions of dollars, but it all begins at home,” the teacher said.
But for now, $150 billion is a good start. So let it rain.
Leah Mafrica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.