(Photo of kids in Southwest Philadelphia in the last days of this summer before school, Paul Sableman.)
Apparently Philadelphia's educational budget has been slashed and cut to an insane degree. The nurse, the librarian, the guidance counselors, the Spanish teachers... they're almost all gone. Teachers have to pretty much fund their own classrooms, with very little help from the district/boards.
According to The Awl:
Last week, as the 2013 school year officially began, Philadelphia's schools faced a $304 million budget shortfall. Also: the teachers’ union contract has expired, 24 schools closed over the summer, and—to boot!—more than 2,100 school employees were laid off. And then it was time for approximately 134,000 students to go back to school.
After the schools lost their full time nurses, they were given first aid kits:
"We have no full-time nurse, so instead we were given a ‘first aid kit.’" S. expected a kit of the quality one might find in an office supply closet, but was given "a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and it had a box of tissues, a thing of hand sanitizer, like five Band-Aids, and a printout of what to do in the event of a bloody nose."
They can't print out worksheets due to a lack of paper:
"No paper. No sign of paper," said Z., a music teacher at a neighborhood school, and another teacher who wanted to speak anonymously. "The secretary who did payroll is gone. Even if we have money for sports and extracurricular activities, I don't trust that we will ever get paid for it. Because we don't have the staff to do the accounting."
The teachers have resorted to essentially begin on Donor sites - not for projects, but for necessities:
"I went on to Donors Choose and the website wanted me to post a project. And I’m thinking, project? I need paper!" said B., a veteran teacher in a district school. "I got frustrated and I thought, you know, I’ll just end up buying this. Because why should I be constantly justifying everything I’m doing? Why are you making me beg for paper?"
It leads to a destructive cycle - less funding means the students leave for suburban and charter schools; less students means less funding.
Usually the Helen Lovejoy GIF is used sarcastically, but really: