This morning I watched parents take “first day of school” photos at the bus stop. Despite having to say goodbye to summer, the enthusiasm of kids and parents, was obvious. New backpacks, new class and extracurricular schedules, and the prospect of new friends certainly added to the excitement.
As a mom, I remember getting my daughters ready for their first day. As a working mom, we would hurry to grab breakfast, take pictures and get out the door. As a parent, the new school year brought worries of increased homework, forgotten lunches and what friendship dramas were to come. The pressures of standardizing testing and cyber-bullying were just beginning to shape, and smartphones were certainly not commonplace.
For the past 12 years, I have represented the 143rd district, during which time I have made a point of keeping in touch with what is happening in our classrooms and our schools.
It concerns me greatly to learn about the increase in anxiety that is affecting our students, whether in public or private schools. The root cause of the anxiety varies, but includes social media, testing pressures, drug influences, as well as valid concerns for safety spurred by attacks on schools. The anxiety is actually affecting attendance, classroom culture and the ultimate success of some of our students. It is a community issue that is increasing demands on our teachers, counselors, school administrators, and ultimately school budgets.
Throwing money at any issue is not the answer, but recognizing where dollars need to be spent to address new challenges our schools face is key, as kids can’t learn if they don’t feel safe.
The bipartisan budget to fund schools which I helped pass this year includes $60 million for school safety grants. These grants will help school officials implement safety features such as school resource officers, metal detectors or specialized training, and more. This new funding for school safety is in addition to record state funding I have helped deliver for all of Pennsylvania’s schools — more than at any time in our state’s history. That has meant more money for pre-k, special education, career and technical schools and higher education.
Investing in education is investing in our future. I will continue to fight for the best educational opportunities for Bucks County students not only as your next senator but as a mother and a grandmother.
Marguerite Quinn, Furlong