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WHILE WE ALL ARE EXPERIENCING THE STRUGGLES OF COVID-19, WE CONTINUE TO BE HERE TO SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITY
Currently, the Philadelphia Public School System is going through a major financial crisis. There have been 23 public schools that have been ordered to close for the upcoming school year; there are two others that will be determined for closing at a later date. The financial responsibility for Philadelphia Public Schools estimates $300 million per year; closing the schools that they have thus far, they saved approximately $24.5 million.
It is unfortunate, but for those who are not aware schools in the United States are unequally funded; there is a portion of funding that is received by the government, but the majority of funding is received via the taxes of those residing within the communities. Unlike higher income communities, those residing in lower income communities do not have the tax dollars to better fund their schools; and apparently the government is unable to carry the weight.
Whether fair or not, the fact remains that our youth are in big trouble! The educational system in the United States is not providing our youth with an adequate education; particularly not to youth that are residing in disenfranchised communities.
In June, the Philadelphia School District laid off 4,000 employees which included assistant principals, secretaries and guidance counselors, teachers and teacher's aides. As if that is not bad enough, the schools also have to eliminate extra-curricular activities and non-core programs (i.e. art)! I have to ask....did they not think this through??? Can we actually afford to cut educational funding; or not add to the current budget???
To date, students have been forced to attend schools that are not in their communities; okay, there is nothing that can be done...it is what it is. But how about this 'new' issue? As if we needed to add a 'new' issue to one that is already extremely troubling!
School begins September 9, 2013 and there are reports stating that schools may not open on time due to the lack of staffing; there is not enough staff to cover the schools that will house over 136,000 public school students!
The district will need at least $50 million to open the doors of these schools; only being able to hire 1,000 assistant principals and secretaries. Even still, this is not enough as there is an anticipated need of a bit over $300 million for the year. Apparently, city and state officials are not much help in closing a $304 million budget deficit. With only a couple of weeks left before school begins!
Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers stated, "The district's current contract proposals will not create better schools; rather, they will cause a mass exodus of high quality educators and a deterioration of teaching and learning conditions in our schools for years to come." Scary, isn't it???
Mayor Nutter and School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. Hites both stand firm, they are not going to allow schools to open until there is enough funding to hire additional staff; it is absolutely necessary for the safety of our youth.
The U.S. prides itself on 'equal opportunity'; however, there are too many youth not receiving a quality education; and they lack the same opportunities that is provided to their counterparts. Because of this, one can easily dispute the equal opportunity motto that this country prides itself on.
So, what can be done? Where do we begin? How do we help ensure that our youth.....rich, poor; majority, minority; spiritual, nonspiritual; regardless of differences, how do we help them ALL receive quality, equal educational opportunity???
Let's put our heads together and make a change! I two heads are better than one, than how much better are hundreds, or even thousands of heads???
We must stand for something, or we will fall for anything!
Mrs. Tomaro M. Pilgrim, MS