While the protest continued outside the School District headquarters at 440 North Broad Street, inside the School Reform Commission was meeting to hear more testimony from citizens and vote on resolutions including some related to charter school payments for rented buildings as well as one particularly important resolution allowing $228,000 of donated funds to be directed towards Science Leadership Academy for their academic program. This echoes of the report earlier this month of the principal of Greenfield Elementary School asking that each student's family supply $613 in order to run their programs.
While I applaud and support any financial interest parents and other community members have with their schools, I am quite wary of the trend this might be starting: schools that do not have an alumni or parent base may not be able to succeed in the coming years due to lack of support from central authorities. The vast majority of schools in Philadelphia have more than half of their populations on free- or reduced-priced lunch programs - how are they supposed to provide the same support?
In a truly democratic society, each citizen is supposedly taxed in order to support those in need in order to bolster the entire community. Imagine if each of the students in Philadelphia grew up with a useful degree, got a job, and paid money into the city's coffers through the State and City Wage Tax? We would gain billions of dollars.
Instead, as Helen Gym recently told the Washington Post, PA Governor Corbett "cut nearly $1 billion from education statewide, money that has largely not been restored." That money would go to pay for after-school tutoring, extracurricular activities, school police officers, non-teaching aides, nurses, and guidance counselors. Without these people in buildings, I do not think a truly solid educational program can take place.
In June, Ronnie Polaneczky wrote a piece entitled, "This isn't school" discussing how - at this point - the gaps in public education are too vast to supplement with outside resources. Perhaps even the donations being discussed now are not enough.
Without further funding from a state level, programs will continue to be cut and the next generation of high school graduates (who are sure to be fewer than in years past) will lack the tools necessary for careers and college. Teachers are being downgraded to glorified babysitters - something we are definitely not paid enough for.