Funding necessary for better schools

Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. has been under fire for his comments about the inner-city students in Philadelphia.

As a retired teacher from Altoona Area School District, his comments did not sit well with me, so I called his office.

His aides there told me that his quotes had been taken out of context in several publications, and that he had merely meant that college is not for all students and that there needs to be more Vocational-Technical schools in Philadelphia.

I agree, since the city school district has only five schools for a very large student population.

However, Eichelberger has also said that the problems in education can not be solved by throwing money at them. Again, I agree, but only in part.

Vo-tech schools do not build themselves for free. The structures, equipment, teachers and text books all cost money, and that is something that Philadelphia does not have, as their district spokesperson has pointed out.

Since Altoona Area School District also serves a city with a blue-collar tax base and the majority of students come from working-class backgrounds, I think I can point out a few ways that money could be spent to have more impact so that students from these backgrounds can better succeed in colleges and universities, with programs that our school district has implemented with success.

One outstanding component is our School Age Parent Program, which allows students with babies to finish school, while also helping to train other students as licensed daycare workers.

The other component is the Advanced Placement Program, which I know well, since I taught both Advanced Placement German and European History.

These courses were often more difficult than students would later experience in college, but we taught them how to succeed in higher education, as well as the subject matter.

And these courses do succeed in inner city schools, but they take funding for required textbooks and other materials.

So, yes, we need more and better vo-techs and programs to prepare inner city youth to succeed in life, as Eichelberger has said, but these, as with many outcomes in life, do have the necessity that money be “thrown at the problem” to begin to solve it.

Frances Hugg