Sunday, July 7, 2013

In Philadelphia Education Disaster Looms as Years of Mismanagement, Fiscal Decline Combine with Republican Recalcitrance on Spending

Dooming a Generation – But Then These are Low Income Minorities So Who Cares?

If current budget plans go through, the schools in the city of Philadelphia are going to be devastated by massive budget cuts which produce massive cuts in personnel.

Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
Marielle Casanova, counselor at Andrew Jackson School in Philadelphia, is being laid off along with all the other counselors in the district. 

Pink slips were recently sent to 19 percent of the school-based work force, including all 127 assistant principals, 646 teachers and more than 1,200 aides. Principals are contemplating opening in September with larger classes but no one to answer phones, keep order on the playground, coach sports, check out library books or send transcripts for seniors applying to college.

“You’re not even looking at a school that any of us went to,” said Lori Shorr, the mayor’s chief education officer. “It’s an atrocity, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves if the schools open with these budgets.”

The usual suspects are the suspects here.  A declining city economic tax base; a shift of resources to Charter Schools, a teacher’s union that fought needed school closings.  And of course Republicans in control of the state have to cut education spending.  They had to, it’s what they do.

Philadelphia’s schools, whose chronic budget problems led to a state takeover in 2002, have not been this close to the abyss in memory. The troubles have many causes: rising pension costs, high debt payments for past borrowing that papered over budget gaps, a flight to charter schools and a block-grant formula for state aid that has fallen behind enrollments, which have increased 5,000 a year between charter and traditional schools, according to Mr. Hite.

State aid to Philadelphia schools declined by $274 million in the past three years, according to the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

There is tremendous economic progress in developing nations, and they are getting closer to the United States in terms of the quality of life and in terms of providing basic services like education for the public.  In part this is because those nations are improving, but in part it is because of the decline in public services like education in the United States.

Ms. Kaplan, the principal, returned often to the same word to describe the cuts: “devastating.”

“Do we just want a building that houses children until they get to the new prison they’re building?” she said.

As parents arrived for an international literacy day on Friday, they set out a potluck lunch of Mexican empanadas and Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. Ms. Kaplan greeted the room of about 40 mothers and a few fathers in three foreign languages: “Hola. Ni hao. Salaam aleikum.”

The real purpose of the gathering was to encourage parents to read to children over the summer because the budget cuts had eliminated summer school. It was a serious blow because research shows that children lose a significant level of skills during the summer when not in class.

“Make sure your children read and you read with your children,” said Ms. Kaplan as student helpers passed out donated coloring books and three Hannah Montana adventures.

“I’m sorry if you have boys,” she said. “These were all I could get. They were free.”

Yes, in some parts of the nation the United States is winning the race, but the race we are winning is the race to the bottom.

So thanks Conservatives, the U. S. canot win the race to the bottom without you.

No comments:

Post a Comment