Invest in rural schools

Recently, an editorial by superintendents from several large, urban school districts ran in Pennsylvania’s city newspapers. It highlighted the important role city schools play in preparing students for the 21st century economy and the real and urgent needs their students face. It called on state leaders to fix Pennsylvania’s broken state funding system and invest more in our public schools.

Those urban school leaders are right. Pennsylvania’s success will be determined by how well we educate our children, and our children need more. But that extends beyond our cities to our small towns and rural regions. The state’s failure to pay its fair share for public education is hurting rural students.

Rural schools struggle to find enough resources to keep buildings safe and in good repair, protect academic and extracurricular programs from elimination, and give students up-to-date books and technology. Rural schools strive to give students with disabilities or special needs what they deserve to reach their potential and make sure students have career and technical opportunities that prepare them for today’s workforce and a successful future. Many rural districts must meet the needs of children living in poverty but have a limited tax base to generate enough revenues locally.

There is a budget proposal on the table to increase state funding for basic, special and career and technical education by $260 million next school year. Pennsylvania’s school children need every penny. All our state legislators should immediately commit to provide at least that much in this year’s budget.

Edward Albert

Executive director,

Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools,

Lebanon