Poverty and Education in North Carolina
I went to an average public high school in Chester County Pennsylvania. There were schools that achieved higher scores on standardized tests than us and there were also schools that scored lower. In my experience there, I had great teachers who I feel prepared us for college or what ever path you chose to take. We had a program where you could go to a trade school for half the day for those students who wanted to take a different path besides college. The opportunities that were presented to us seemed endless. When looking at the statistics between North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the amount that NC spends on each student per year is $ 6,562, while PA spends $ 8,997. Income for teachers was also a big difference. To make $ 50,000 in North Carolina on average you have to be teaching for 30+ years. In Pennsylvania, $ 50,000 is the average that teachers make. I am sure that teachers in North Carolina are well trained and over all great teachers, but with these staggering differences, states such as Pennsylvania seem to be more inviting to teachers, thus giving states such as North Carolina a disadvantage. Nearly a third of teachers nationwide quit within their first three years due to low pay and overcrowded classrooms (greatpublicschools.org.) The number of children in the state of North Carolina that grow up in poverty is shocking. In many Pitt County schools, over half the children are on free or reduced meal plans due to their living situations at home. In 2000, 181,682 children living in rural areas were living in poverty. About half of the children living in poverty in North Carolina are white, but the poverty rate for rural blacks, 27 percent, is more than 1.5 times greater than the rate for rural whites (Rural Data Bank). Here in Greenville, at Pactolus Elementary School and Belvoir Elementary School, 99 % of their children are at an economical disadvantage. Unfortunately, the statistics do not seem to be getting any better. A common question that comes to mind when thinking about poverty and education in the state of North Carolina, is what makes some schools better than others? I personally have experienced public school in North Carolina through observations, and I have experienced public school in the state of Pennsylvania. After observing a couple of schools in North Carolina, one elementary school and one high school, I was taken aback by the differences between the two. I only observed two schools in Pitt County, so maybe in other parts of North Carolina the differences may be less. Around the nation many states are experiencing a battle for funding. In Oregon, "budget crisis led nearly 100 school districts to cut days from the 2002-2003 school year
raising the student-teacher ration from 30:1 to 42:1." (Karp, 1). Boston also was struggling when 800 teachers were laid off. In some New Jersey and Hawaii communities, students now have to pay to ride the school bus. School budgets are not only a problem in more than a third of the states in the US, but it is a crisis. The Washington Post investigated this issue and came to conclusions that, "a third of the states are moving to cut millions in some cases billions of dollars from public school budgets
with 85 percent of district budgets tied up in salaries and benefits, cuts fall heavily on the other 15 percent- teacher training, after-school enrichment, even bathroom cleaning contracts." (Karp, 1). Although the demands for enhanced school performance are at an unprecedented high, with belts being tightened to decrease school budgets, it seems that public schools have been put on the back burner. With the standards presented in No Child Left Behind, a "recent study projected could require a 30 percent increase in state education funding a sum approaching $150 billion." (Karp, 1). With budget cuts that have been taken, how does the government expect schools to perform at the...
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