The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Opinion

May 11, 2013

While cuts are rampant, education system suffers

---- — As concerns rise across the nation for the many sub-par high school graduates we are producing, we continue to see federal and state funding cut for education.

Despite the fact that we were No. 1 in the world in math and science in the 1950s and 60s, we now have dropped out of the top 20. How sad is that?

The kind of students we are turning out is evident anytime you go into a store. If the cash register didn’t figure out the amount of change to give, the young person working there would have no clue. More than once I have had to tell a clerk, “You gave me too much change.”

When it comes to producing local funds for education, that is no easy task either. In Pennsylvania, many school districts are limited to how much they can increase property taxes.

In nearby Ohio, you have to pass levies to boost taxes and that is no easy job. For example, after failing many times, Brookfield finally was able to pass a 4.85-mill levy to aid that district.

Well, at least we think it passed. It passed by only three votes, so a recount is coming in the near future. Boardman schools saw the same kind of thing as their levy passed by only four votes.

But the big concern for everyone is this – how will the money be spent?

Brookfield already has a spanking-new high school. There is no doubt a new school was needed, but how ornate do our schools have to be?

Look at the new Sharon City School District elementary school that is nearing completion – the Taj Mahal has nothing on that building!

As I looked at the Wednesday newspaper on my desk, I read the front page headline about Brookfield schools that claimed, “Levy backers pull out win.” On the other side of my desk I had a printed copy of an e-mail that read: “Brookfield High School will dedicate their new all-weather eight-lane track with a ribbon cutting ceremony at May 15 at 4:00 p.m.”

Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that sports help provide a well-balanced education for students. Considering the number of obese kids we see lumbering through the hallways of our schools, we need more of them to participate in physical activities.

But when you are scraping for educational funding, does every school need an artificial turf football field or an all-weather track?

I am a strong proponent of consolidation of school districts whether through countywide school systems or simply merging of area schools.

But we could consolidate facilities, with three or four schools having access to one artificial turf field and all-weather tracks.

In football, with four artificial turf fields in Mercer County, you could get in all the games each weekend. You could play night games on Thursdays and Fridays and on Saturdays, play three games on each field if need be.

While we are nearing the time when most people will say, “Enough is enough,” we may need our state officials to step up and force consolidations.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett is attacking state teachers’ unions, so why not take on consolidation issues as well? We need to completely revamp the way we handle education.

The teachers may have pensions that are out of whack, but as far as salaries go, good teachers deserve even more than they earn. Many of them will tell you that their hands are tied when it comes to properly educating youngsters.

The system of mandated testing and the “No Child Left Behind” program are leaving all of our children behind.

The Herald’s Lynn Saternow writes this column each week for the Opinion Page. He can be reached at lsaternow@sharonherald.com

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