Then, to put the nail in the coffin, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a statement about the funding crisis in Philadelphia education. Jeff Bryant of the Washington Post recently dug into the words used and how the idea of "no excuses" has become a mantra for some, often to the detriment of children. Duncan pointed out that there is "no excuse" for the current budget crisis, yet back in 2011 Governor Corbett floated the idea of reduced spending as a means to an end in the State. Even though he was warned of the possible outcome in education across Pennsylvania, he still went through with reducing the basic education subsidy by $1 billion. Coupled with the loss of federal stimulus money, this has run Philadelphia schools into the ground.
While applying to work at schools in New York City, I immediately dismissed any that advertised a "no excuses" attitude toward their students - this often results in psychological issues for children, false "miracle" schools, and entirely too much stress on teachers.
I applaud the mindset of those who want all children to succeed no matter what. But there are valid excuses sometimes and we need to recognize that, grow up, and move on. I sincerely hope that something big happens in Philadelphia so that teachers can do their best work with the majority low-income students across the city and don't have to worry about where their own next meal is coming from.