Salena Zito's column “Fayette County, Philly have poverty in common” (Feb. 10 and TribLIVE.com) was insightful. I live in Fayette County. A basic institution we have looked to for addressing poverty is the public school system, in giving opportunities to all our children, whether from privileged or underprivileged, rich or poor homes.
A century ago, my ancestors tried to give a farm and land to their children; today, we give our children schooling because education is wealth and social mobility.
A major impulse for public education came a century ago in trying to integrate poor immigrant children into society as useful and functional citizens. However clumsy that effort has been, on balance it has served us quite well. One thinks of personal stories of children from poor families who took advantage of public education, learning to read and write and think well — hence, to achieve. Statistically, the correlation remains: Children who are enrolled and achieve in school are more likely to live outside of poverty as adults.
Our Southmoreland schools have had significant success in having higher student achievement levels than our socio-economic indicators might suggest, as have some of our neighboring districts. A significant factor for our remaining competitive in achievement has been to receive sufficient state basic education funding, in addition to what local taxes provide.
I hope Gov. Corbett and our legislators remember this factor regarding poverty during this spring's debate on the budget.
The writer is president of the Southmoreland School Board.
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