As a resident of South Philadelphia (184th Legislative District) and a member of the School District of Philadelphia, I asked Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler to sponsor a bill that would increase funding for all public schools fairly, specifically for school infrastructure. As a student of a public school myself, I am aware that many public schools (especially the older ones) are running under unsafe conditions: asbestos, leaking pipes, etc.
I looked at some of the things Rep. Fiedler has already done for public school students thus far in her term and I am so grateful for it. It was her House co-sponsorship memorandum for increased public school funding that initially caught my attention. This is a step in the right direction and I hope that once introduced, this bill gets passed. Education is power, and to raise a new generation of capable people and education at its core should not be overlooked. I, along with many other students, have seen how unfair funding has been divided among the public schools of Philadelphia: Some schools receive more funding due to rank and/or size. I think that it is important to emphasize the importance of equity — funding is nothing if some schools in underrepresented neighborhoods still do not have an adequate learning environment. Certainly an “outstanding” learning environment would be great but considering our current conditions, at the very least we need buildings that will not put students and teachers at a physical risk of health problems in the future. Regardless of school rank, it does not make sense to have two public schools within the same neighborhood to have drastic differences in environment and funding.
As a member of both the Children & Youth and Health committees of the House of Representatives, her work addresses problems of multiple topics. For example, some aspects of education go hand in hand with health. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fiedler said, “[parents] shouldn’t need to worry if there’s going to be a nurse at their child’s school when they need it” and I completely agree with her. From the mass public school budget cut back in 2010 that left schools without counselors and nurses, her words are valid. I also support her hopes to make healthcare more accessible to the underprivileged. I only saw a couple “smaller” bills such as HR 617 that ensures that insurance policies will cover the costs of preexposure prophylaxis HIV medications while researching but I am excited to see what plans she has in store to tackle these critical issues.
– Annetta Yuwono