I know, I know… I might be borrowing this title from the great Documentary which goes by the same name: “Waiting for Superman,” but I really believe that this title fits for this post. If you haven’t seen this great documentary about the problems and the hurdles that our nation’s children have to jump through in order to obtain a quality education, go see it NOW!! In one of the segments of the movie the narrator introduces a graph depicting the amount of money that the state of Pennsylvania currently spends on its correction system compared to the educational spending . Just to give you some additional information, Pennsylvania was one of 24 states to have increased its prison population by 4.3% In that same time period Pennsylvania increased its Department of Corrections budget by 4.9% to the tune of over 197 million dollars.
During this same time-frame the Reading School district have continued to fall behind in virtually every category that most experts agree is the ‘key to the future’ for America. On average, 62% of our Reading students are proficient in Math, which is a good thing right? Yes and no. Yes it’s a good thing that are students are meeting and exceeding benchmarks, but not enough of our students are reaching that goal. And to add further insult to injury, Currently 40% of our Reading students read at a basic level, with only 42% of students reading at a proficient/ advanced level. So yes, the Reading School district is doing a better job in preparing our children in Math, but they are failing horribly, and this is according to their numbers, at making sure these kids can read at a college level when they graduate. And even if they are doing a pretty good job in supplementing Math at our schools. The school district still holds an abysmal graduation rate with only 66% percent of our student graduating each year. Think about it? In my graduating class at RHS we started off with 1300 people in our freshman class. By the time we got to our senior year, that number was about 700 students. I’ll say it for those of you to afraid to do so. Reading High is a dropout factory!!
Now I’m not saying that money is the clear solution to this problem. In fact, it’s not. The importance of education needs to start at home with the parents. Unfortunately, since the majority of the residents in this city live beneath the poverty line(the average median income was $25,000, compared to the rest of the nation where that number shoots up to over $50,000) which at this point stands at 35%, parents can no longer handle the pressures of keeping a roof over everyone’s head and making sure their children receive a valuable education. It’s a cyclic nature of this that has continually thrusted Reading into the spot light of a crime-ridden, drug infested, illegal alien, and mostly uneducated city where no one wants to live, let alone raise their children.
What’s happening in Reading is the same thing that has happened in many parts of the world. Brain drain! Most of our most successful, smart, and entrepreneurial minded people have left the city because they see no hope. And frankly, I can’t blame them. From everything that we read in the paper, to the sterotypes that our own students have to battle against everyday because of where they came from. It’s like we are set up to fail! The prison system is there waiting for our children with open-arms, its budget increasing yearly as more and more of our youth(predominatly Black and latinos) are wasted away in jails that don’t contribute anything to our society or our community. Yes, we lack the resources and the manpower to change the atmosphere right now. But more importantly, we lack the will to work through the hard times and make a difference in our community one at a time. We must encourage our youth to be more than what they see on T.V. Explain to them that they can accomplish so much more than artists like Lil Wayne or Waka Flacka, just by picking up a book and exploring the universe. Instill in everyone in our community that the future of Reading, and the rest of this country for that matter, relies on building the roadways for our children to succeed. The future of Reading is Waiting on Supermen/women, plural. Because were gonna need more than one person to step up to the plate. The time is now Reading PA, LET’S make a DIFFERENCE!
Together we can!