vendredi, mai 31, 2013

The Philadelphia School Implosion: why suburbanites should give a hoot

To talk about the appalling conditions of the Philadelphia School System, I want to tell you about my son's school.

He attends a new high school in our district.  It was founded to help kids in the hard sciences (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). More than that, it's the only S.T.E.M. school with the I.B. (International Baccalaureate)  program in the United States, he told me recently.

While there is grousing about the new school among teachers and some parents in the regular district high schools (very understandable), it's not like they are particularly deprived.  Our parents have to pay fees for some extracurricular activities now.


That's because Governor Corbett and the legislature have tightened the belt on public education.

My point?

It's not our relatively affluent school district which has suffered.

Wanna know about suffering?

Check out Philadelphia.

Yesterday  the Philadelphia  School Reform Commission voted to eliminate 3,000 jobs (yup) and make an eight percent budget cut for the next school year.

No more guidance counselors.

No more sports teams.

No more art classes.

But why should we folk in suburbia care, you might ask?

After all, Philadelphia politics is a hot mess.  Corruption. Mismanagement.  Politics, yadda, yadda yadda.

It's not at all clear that Mayor Michael Nutter can get his "sin" taxes through a divided City Council.

Not to mention that the "small government " Republicans who run the State Legislature are awfully attached to telling Philadelphia what to do.

Then there is the resistance of the teacher's union to further sacrifices.

Business as usual, in other words.

Except for the kids.

It's the children who will have nowhere to go to blow off some steam, exercise their creativity, or get some help in escaping the chains of economic disadvantage.

If we care about other people's children, we should be outraged at what may happen in our local city.

Are we?

If we care about the future impact of these cuts on violence in Philadelphia, on our jails, on our educational institutions of higher learning, we should be dismayed.

If we care about the tapestry, increasingly frayed, that holds our social fabric together, we should speak out in solidarity with our neighbors.

If we care about ourselves, and want to be able to look ourselves in the mirror and sleep at night, we should cry out with disgust and exhort our state and city government to do better.

I happen to be a Christian -- as a believer, I subscribe to the words of the apostle Paul, who saw us as a Body, each dependent on each other.

But you know what? I'd believe that even if I wasn't a Christian.

Home school your kids if you want. Send them to private schools.  Sign  them up for Lower Merion or Downingtown or Radnor High, and count your blessings.

But don't think for a minute that what happens in Philly doesn't matter -- to your quality of life or your conscience or the future of this area. These could be your children.

These are are our children.

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