Philadelphia schools have $5/student/year for supplies

"Education reform," the charter school movement (that siphons state funding for well-off kids into private hands), the racialized segregation of inner-city and suburban school districts, No Child Left Behind, and the scapegoating of teachers' unions has produced an education system that hardly even qualifies as a 12-year babysitting service.

No libraries, nurses, extracurricular activities or counselors; 50 kids in a classroom; rationing of note-paper, 11 textbooks for 33 students...

Reporting from PBS, education correspondent John Tulenko recently went to the city to examine “a school budget crisis that’s been called the worst in the country.” He found a high school where “the budget for extracurricular activities has dropped to zero, its budget for books zero, and for supplies to $14,000. That’s roughly $5 per student to last the entire year.”

He found an elementary school of 578 students with no full-time school nurse; so the principal, who has no medical training, has to sub in that role three days a week.

The ninth grade biology class he visited was “packed wall to wall with 62 students.” A student he spoke with said, “It makes me feel annoyed. It slows down the class and what we can learn. And it makes it harder to pay attention when you can’t even get a desk to sit in.”

The teacher said, “I tried to do a lab with them, and it was extremely difficult because so many of them wanted help and they were not sure of what to do. And you can’t give your attention to 30 pairs of students.”

We must still hate our kids: Philadelphia and “education reformers” fight demented war on elementary schools [Jeff Bryant/Salon]

(via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Children Screaming, Will Perkins, CC-BY)

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  1. the republican party has been working for several years to try to eliminate what they call "government schools" (what i would call public schools) by using vouchers and charters to pull funding away from public schools in order to eviscerate their budgets. here's rick santorum in 2011 describing his feelings about public schools-- . after all, what better way to demonstrate that government is the problem and not the solution than by making the government and its subsidiaries as dysfunctional as possible. it's worked in congress, so why not with public schools? add to that the money coming from the lobbyists representing the for-profit school business and you have a combination leading directly to what is happening in philadelphia. evangelical groups are taking advantage of this to try and move public money to religious schools as well. here's a fairly typical example of how that works and a fairly naked description of their feelings about public education--

    here in texas we suffered a loss of $5 billion dollars to the state education budget two years ago so that our "rainy day" fund would not be depleted. obviously it's more important in my state to be able to bribe businesses to move to texas than it is to fund public education. that's what that fund is for, by the way, offering incentives and tax breaks to businesses to either move here or stay here. it's all rather frustrating.

  2. If I were a foreign sleeper agent looking to undermine the global dominance of the US in economic and technological terms, I could do worse than find ways to shatter your education system through faux-rational attacks on 'socialized' schooling.

    Sadly for US folks, you don't seem to need any outsiders to convince you to shoot yourselves in the collective feet. You are doing it just fine on your own.

  3. It's never made sense to me that when schools get criticized for "failing students" the solution always seems to be to cut funding for those schools, as if taking money away from a school will magically help. Then when the governor of Tennessee ordered the city of Nashville to grant an application for a charter school in a wealthy neighborhood, and withheld $4.3 million in education funding when the city defied him it made perfect sense. They want students to fail.

  4. That must be why there's such a big push to shift these kids into Pennsylvania's prison system, where funding is far more abundant. They're so flush that they think nothing of spending well over $42K per prisoner every year.

  5. I disagree with your "A pox on both their houses!" approach.

    The problem is money, and the lack of it going directly toward per capita student instruction. Greedheads are starving public education (thus, less and less $ spent per student), and charter schools are run for profit (thus, less and less $ spent per student).

    Many students do clearly care about and appreciate a traditional education, especially if it means far fewer students per classroom, and thus far more individual attention from teachers, as well as more available subjects, as well as less overworked teachers, and thus, more freedom for students to pursue their own talents and interests. But yeah, that all takes $, that thing that the greedheads want too much of.

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