During the last week of the 2011, the School District of Philadelphia cut 141 positions, including 47 nurses. A wonderful slap in the face to some people who have been working for years to maintain the health of our student-body. Our own school's nurse was reduced to only two days a week. Today one of my students asked to go see the nurse and I had to say "no, she's not here." One of the most important aspects to life, according to Abraham Maslow, is homestasis, something rarely achieved when your health is not at its peak. This student cannot and will not perform well without her health taken into account.
During the week before break all teachers had to submit grades to a system for interim reports, a way of sending home information about students directly to parents in the middle of the quarter. Due to budget cuts, we were not actually able to mail the documents home so I am certain many parents did not receive them. Even though our school conducted an auto-dial to let parents/guardians know, there is no way we can be certain the report was seen by someone other than the child. Maslow's second level demands security of resources, something severely lacking right now in the School District of Philadelphia.
Over the past few weeks I have been dealing with a student who has decided a few of her classes are "too hard" for her and stopped coming. At first she was not coming to school, then she came to school but spent time in the library or lunch room. We have had meetings with the parent, included our guidance counselor in on everything, and still the child misses class. Ideally I would send her to our school social worker to figure out what is going on but we don't have one. How is a child supposed to feel what Maslow called love/belonging if there is no one for him/her to talk to?
In just the past three weeks I have examples of how the deepest three levels of needs are not being met for children in this current budget crisis. If the state will not help out by providing funds through various tax initiatives (including maybe a millionaire tax that even Warren Buffett supports) our schools will end up doing what a nearby district already has.