Reading through the list of school districts in Yinzer Nation affected by these devastating state budget cuts, I had the peculiar feeling I was a kid again and it was a snow day. We would wake up to snow on the ground, turn on KDKA, and listen through the looong list of school districts announcing two-hour delays: being at the end of the alphabet in Upper St. Clair, we had to listen impatiently to all those other schools, hoping to hear that we would have a day off.
Only now that long list of school delays has turned onto real delays for our children’s education. The snow storm is a man-made disaster with white-out conditions hitting our schools. Take a look at the numbers below, compiled by the Pennsylvania State Education Association. (These are just Allegheny County, but we will add more of Southwest Pennsylvania in the coming days.) This list is Yinzer Nation: school districts like Sto-Rox, Keystone Oaks, and Steel Valley evoke our identity. I can name school districts like Northgate and Chartiers Valley more quickly than the actual townships their students come from (Bellevue and Avalon for the former; Bridgeville, Collier, Heidelberg, and Scott for the latter … I had to go look these up) — because our schools define us. They are our collective identity as communities.
Because of Governor Corbett’s $1 BILLION + $100 MILLION budget cuts, our schools are talking about real delays and closings. The Pittsburgh Public School district has announced that some schools will have to delay opening in the fall (these include the Advanced Learning Academies that had an additional ten school days designed to address the racial achievement gap). And many school districts are being forced to close their full-day Kindergarten programs with the loss of the state block grant which used to fund them.
I don’t know about you, but these numbers are making me feel snowed in. It’s time to get out the shovels. Time to tell our legislators to take those shovels and spread the money back into our children’s education and our state’s future.
Data compiled by the PSEA.