Circulation Project: Inequality of Funding in Public Schools

Taylor Allderdice High School Journal

Allderdice

I arrived at Taylor Allderdice High School about a half hour before the final bell of the day rang. Some older students who may have had early dismissal were already leaving the building when I had arrived and they were walking to the parking lot where I was coming from. I took that chance to see what models of cars were in the lot, and most of them were typically nice cars such as newer Honda Accords and an array of Jeeps, yet their were some BMW and Audi vehicles as well. I walked up a pathway toward the school to position myself in a good spot so that most of the students would have to pass me before leaving from the school day. The bell rang and a wave of students rushed from the building, as they passed I had the opportunity to speak to nine different students. The following include my questions and the responses from students.

Questions: Hello, I am enrolled as a student at the University of Pittsburgh and I am doing a project in one of my classes, would you mind if I asked you a few questions quickly? What kinds of courses are offered that you can take during the school day? What kind of extra-curricular activities are you involved in after the school day ends? Where do you think the most funding goes toward in terms of extra-curricular activities? Do you think that Pittsburgh schools as a whole has equality in funding?

After I introduced myself and had the opportunity to gain some of this information from nine students who were willing to take the time and answer my questions, I combined the following information. You are allowed to create your own schedule of classes as long as you are taking an English course and a gym class every year. Seven of the students that I had talked to said that they were either enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses or that they had taken them in the past. Other courses that were available to take included ceramics, graphic design, wood shop, an engineering course, and interesting science courses such as environmental science and a forensic science course. The extra-curricular activities that some of the students had been apart of included athletic teams such as soccer, basketball, cheerleading, softball, and track and field. Some of the after-school clubs that were said included the Model United Nations Debate Club, Student Council, Interact Club, Students Against Destructive Decisions, various Science and Math Clubs, DECA, foreign language clubs, and the Student Hunger Action Coalition Community Service club. The unanimous answer that was given at the question of “where does most of the funding for extra-curricular activities go” was toward athletics. Most of the students that I spoke to said that basketball and football were two pretty big sports with a lot of funding for things such as the marching band and traveling. One of the students did say that they thought a lot of school funding went toward contracts for the teachers, but the rest answered with athletics. The final question came as a bit of a shocker to me as most of the students with an exception of two stated that they thought most of the Pittsburgh schools were equally funded.

Central Catholic High School Journal         

IMG_6172 IMG_6174

I arrived at Central Catholic High School about the same amount of time before the day ended as I did for Taylor Allderdice High School. This school was a little different of a setup than the other high school because it was smaller and also it was located on a main road coming out of the city of Pittsburgh. The first thing that I saw when I arrived was the line of at least nine busses waiting for the students to get out of school. This was a lot different than Taylor Allderdice because although their were busses at the front of the school, taking busses home from Central Catholic seemed to be the main means of transportation from my point of view. I positioned myself behind one of the brick pillar entranceways from the school with a path that leads the students to the main sidewalk. This school was smaller and had a different set-up then Taylor Allderdice, so I only had the chance to speak to five students. The following include my questions and the responses from students.

Questions: Hello, I am enrolled as a student at the University of Pittsburgh and I am doing a project in one of my classes, would you mind if I asked you a few questions quickly? What kinds of courses are offered that you can take during the school day? What kind of extra-curricular activities are you involved in after the school day ends? Where do you think the most funding goes toward in terms of extra-curricular activities? Do you think that Pittsburgh schools as a whole has equality in funding?

After I introduced myself to these high school students, I combined the following information about this Pittsburgh private school. The courses that you could take were mainly the ones that the students were answering at Taylor Allderdice, however, Central Catholic had a chorus class that you could take along with some technology courses and religion courses that were required. The extra-curricular activities that some of the students that I had spoken to were involved in included basketball, soccer, after-school choir, student council, but there was also organizations like art club, technology club, pep rally, interact club, and various other sports teams. When I asked the question of “where do you think the most funding goes to in terms of extra-curricular activities, most of the students answered with one word – basketball, besides one student who said that the sharing of funding was pretty fair amongst athletics and other clubs. The final question about if they saw an equality in funding was answered mainly by yes, yet there were two students who stated that they thought there were definitely certain areas that had less privileges then others.

Reflection

Starting out, I had a lot of difficulty trying to decide how I was going to bring my issue off of paper since this issue is so large, that I cannot possibly tackle it myself. I decided instead of chalking or passing out flyers, I wanted to analyze the difference in high school from public to private high schools in both mostly privileged areas, and subtly bring this topic up to people who are actually enrolled in Pittsburgh schools right now. When I first started out I hit a major problem while implementing my circulation project. I had initially wanted to create a video compilation of the questions and answers that I was asking, but I only had a short period of time between when the students exited the building and when they got on the bus or into their car and I knew that some may have been uncomfortable on film, even if it was for a school project, and I may have not gotten the information that I needed. In general, I was very surprised by some of the responses that I had received from both schools. I initially wanted to only visit Taylor Allderdice High School, but after I left I was curious to see how a private school differs from a Pittsburgh Public School. Taylor Allderdice High School was located in Squirrel Hill while Central Catholic High School was located in Oakland. Squirrel Hill has a lot of privileged students, and that is why I decided to go to that school to ask these questions.

It was interesting to me that a lot of the same courses and same kind of extra-curricular activities were offered at both high schools. I anticipated the private school having more to offer just because the students have to pay tuition, but it was interesting to see how a private education compared to a public education, at least in these two areas, really have no extreme difference other then religion being implemented in the private school. I was not surprised at the answer of athletics being what the students think most of the funding went toward, especially toward basketball, which is a really big sport in high school in this area. I was mind-blown by the responses that I received from the question about if there was equality in the funding of schools in the area. In todays age, kids are becoming very sheltered, however, I did not anticipate almost all of the students that I had asked questions about to think that most of the schools in Pittsburgh had an equality in funding. Maybe the students really don’t leave their little bubble in Pittsburgh, but just from driving by another Pittsburgh Public School, you can visibly spot the differences in funding, and that is the first reason why inequality in school funding is such a huge problem in the Pittsburgh Public School District.

For this project, I wanted to just circulate this idea through the students currently enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools with the complement of a private school for my own curiosity to compare the two. I chose to physically speak to students because from my own knowledge, I feel as though people sometimes do not read sidewalk chalk or read the flyers that they are handed. Now that I reflect on my circulation project, I wish that I had been able to go to a school in Pittsburgh that is known to have an unequal distribution in funding to compare that school with the privileged school that I had visited. I feel as though the success of on-the-ground circulation projects depends on the topic of an issue. In my case, I feel that on-the-ground circulation is more of educating on the topic than actually making progress toward fixing the issue of inequality in funding in public schooling. For my issue, I feel as though the best way to educate through circulation was to physically talk to the students. I could have taken my circulation project in a completely different direction by chalking near the superintendent or handing out flyers to the parents of younger students, yet I wanted to bring this topic to the students who are living in this inequality, to potentially make them think about the research that I am conducting, so that they can have this knowledge as they progress through life and possibly enroll their children into Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Advertisements

One thought on “Circulation Project: Inequality of Funding in Public Schools

  1. JIAYINTANG April 3, 2015 / 1:20 pm

    I think this is so interesting because I did the same thing for a project in high school (I went to a private catholic school, a well off public school, and a “good” school in a primarily black neighborhood). I think it’s crazy that the private school actually has less options than the public since they’re paying up to 10,000 a year!
    I also think it’s great that it’s an on ground project. It wouldn’t have as much resonance in disparity if it were online or if you just distributed fliers elsewhere.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s