Problems with the Philadelphia Public School System

Photo: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/fangol
Photo: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/fangol

There are too many problems with the Philadelphia public school system to address in one blog post.

In general, the attitude towards public school throughout the entire country leaves something to be desired. No child left behind, should mean no child goes without a good education, regardless of economic situation. However, it doesn’t and that is sad. As a country, we can only benefit from having our citizens be the most educated they can be. Whoever is making the rules and pulling the strings doesn’t act like they think so, which brings me to Philadelphia.

Public Schools in Philadelphia

As a parent, I am very interested in the state of the public school system here. Luckily, we chose the smallest house possible so that we could afford to live (sort of)  in the neighborhood zoned for the best elementary school in Philadelphia. Some of the best high schools are within walking distance of the house. So we should be covered, right? Great education; no problem, right? Our property taxes will increase by a double-digit percent next year so our public school should be funded and then some, right?

NO! Apparently not! Grrrr…..

Our school, one of or in fact, the best public elementary school in Philadelphia was told earlier this year that the budget would be cut so much that the only things they could afford were the principal and the teachers. No other staff. No counselors. No lunch people. No assistants. No support staff. No security. No dean. No extra programs. Nadda. Zilch. Nothing. And this is how the best school was treated. Many others fared much, much worse, and quite a few were closed altogether.

Naturally, there has been an uprising. Your average Philadelphia resident is not wealthy. Your average resident needs the public school for their kids. It’s nice to have private schools and charter schools, another institution that I have issues with, but the option of a decent public education should be available for every resident of a city. Police, firemen, sanitation, education. We pay enough taxes; we should get this.

And what kind of message does it send to the kids? If education was important, certainly the city would make sure it was funded. Therefore, it must not be important. So why should any kid bother getting good grades when it’s not a priority for the leadership? What they see are beautiful modern sports facilities and crumbling schools. They don’t know who funds what. They just see what’s getting more attention from the grown-ups.

What Philadelphia is Doing

The city is scrambling for funds. One of my favorite proposals is a $2 cigarette tax. It’ll either provoke people to quit, which is good. Or if they must continue to smoke, at least they can help the kids out. It’s win win. Apparently, there is a lot of money in uncollected fines. Nothing like a crisis to provoke efficiency. Philly could use more efficiency so that’s good too. And they’re asking the teacher’s union for a chunk of cheddar too. After all, without schools, there are no jobs for the teachers.

Our School’s Plan

Next year, the parents of our elementary school will pay tuition so that our kids don’t suffer while the city of Philadelphia gets its priorities straight; ducks in order; red tape cut. Our fee will be $59 a month which is really a bargain (less than basic cable TV) considering they’ll be getting all the services they should have. We’re OK with it, especially since our current after school program is much cheaper now. I’m thankful for this plan because in other schools, the students are really out of luck.

Hopefully, this will only be a short term issue and Philly will get it’s public schools in order. Things have really been looking up in the last few years but there is no faster way to tank progress and the well-being of  any city than destroying its public schools. How the city handles this could determine the overall future of the city. Hopefully they don’t muck it up.

 

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