Education 2020: Patriot-News Forum will Focus on Where We Want to Go

Can you guess what topic The Patriot-News receives the most letters to the editor and commentaries about?

Issues come and go.

Health care took the prize in 2010, and voter ID has been the talk of the Opinion pages lately. But the one consistent topic on central Pennsylvanians’ minds is education.

Everyone has an opinion about our schools.

We all believe we are experts because we spent years sitting in a classroom ourselves, and many of us have children who attend or who have graduated from school. We’ve seen “the system” firsthand. We know what worked for us and our families, and we wonder why that can’t be replicated for all students.

We also know educators. They are our neighbors and family members, and their experiences shape our views.

Living in Pennsylvania with its 500 public school districts and a healthy mix of private, charter and home-school options gives us a lot to compare and contrast. It gives us tremendous success stories and serious failures.

In a rousing speech at the Republican National Convention last week, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice called our failing schools, mostly in minority areas, “the civil rights issue of our time.”

Urban districts such as Chester-Upland and Harrisburg in Pennsylvania are in trouble.

But pressures are mounting at many suburban schools, too. State funding and local property tax revenues are near their limit while pensions and health care costs continue to rise.

Thus far the big education debate in Pennsylvania has focused mostly on funding and a possible voucher program to enable low-income students in struggling schools to enroll somewhere other than their home district.

Click here to read the full article by the Patriot News Editorial Board published in the Patriot News (September 4, 2012)

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