This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
To the editors:
As seniors at Masterman, we have faced the hardships that the education budget cuts have imposed. Whether it’s missing guidance counselors or a lack of paper, cuts have directly affected us. We’ve been hit hard over the past couple of years, and we have continually fought for our right to a decent education – attending protests and attempting to have our voices heard.
We must be thankful to the adults and those with stronger, louder, active voices who worked on our behalf, specifically the state representative from our neighborhood, Cherelle Parker.
Rep. Parker has worked tirelessly to ensure fair public education funding. Not only did she vote in favor of the cigarette tax (which imposes a $2 per pack tax and provides essential funds to the District), she recognized the urgent necessity for passing this tax and prompted others to vote for it. As the chairwoman of the House Philadelphia delegation, she urged the House to quit postponing the vote, when the District wasn’t sure whether it could begin school.
We are thankful to Rep. Parker for her call to action and the voice she provided for students. The cigarette tax provides a recurring source of funding that is crucial to our education, especially without a funding formula. She embodies the qualities of a civil servant, acting as the voice of the people she represents and fighting for students.
With a new administration, we hope that Rep. Parker utilizes her position as chairwoman of the House Philadelphia delegation to advocate for adequate school funding and a fair funding formula. State funding should ensure that all students receive what they are entitled to: an opportunity to learn in the best environment possible. We urge Rep. Parker to vote for an adequate appropriation of funds to District schools, rather than charter schools. We hope she continues to pursue the cause of education funding, and not only serves as an amplifier of our voices, but as an enabler as well.
Jamie Gobreski and Ariannis Hines
The writers are seniors at Masterman High School.