According to NC Child, North Carolina public school funding has decreased by $500 million dollars over the last six years while school enrollment has increased by 48,000. If we have any doubts at all about funding needs for school age children, take a look at The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT data for North Carolina that track the following parameters:
“Education and children advocates believe that a high-quality education, from pre-kindergarten through college and beyond, provides children with the best opportunity for lifelong success in their personal and professional lives” (http://www.ncchild.org/what-children-need/high-quality-education/). All children need access to affordable, high-quality early education to prepare them for school success; safe, connected, well-funded, and diverse public schools; and the resources and support needed to graduate high school and move on to a job or higher education. Yet there are real questions as to the likelihood that public funding for education will increase in the near term, putting a greater responsibility for funding key aspects of youth education on the shoulders of philanthropic foundations, companies and individual donors.
Over the last decade many state and national foundations have made major investments into early childhood, K-4th grade literacy, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and/or pathways to college and career funding. Each of these are significant pieces to an overall solution for improving public education and greatly deserving of the major investments needed to address systemic problems. However, with so much attention being given to these initiatives, we must not overlook the fact that new sources of funding for many of the linchpins of student support must be identified to replace the cuts taking place to traditional public funding. These services include school breakfast and lunch programs, classroom support for teachers, tutoring and after-school programs, transportation, up-to-date educational materials for all public-school children regardless of their geography, and incentives for youth to remain in school and graduate.
The need for funding youth education in our state and nationally is paramount. Only through influencing public school funding decisions and augmenting important public education initiatives with increased funding from foundations, corporations and individuals will school age children have the tools to succeed all along the way from pre-school through high school.
The Triangle Community Foundation, at their community luncheon next Wednesday, April 26, is asking the tough question “What Happens if We Don’t Help Our Kids?” I commend the Foundation for bringing this issue into full view in the Triangle and I challenge all of us to ask the tough questions and seek productive answers in our own school PTA meetings, board meetings of our local and statewide education-focused nonprofits, and in other venues where our collective voice can rise up and be heard by government, political, business and philanthropic leaders.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or questions.
Next week’s guest blogger will be Easter Maynard, Executive Director of ChildTrust Foundation.