Philadelphia laid off thousands of school employees last week after the state of Pennsylvania continued its austerity measures against public schools. And while the state is essentially destroying Philadelphia public schools through under-funding (claiming budgetary concerns), it somehow found enough money to build a $400 million prison just outside of the city.
The Philadelphia public school system has been a target for school reform and Charter-enthusiasts for the past few years, and several figures (including the mayor) have defended charter schools as a viable replacement to the entire public school system. The school closures, which (of course) disproportionately affect schools in poor and minority neighborhoods, will force students to venture far outside of their own neighborhoods to attend their closest school. Charter schools in Philadelphia have been plagued by scandal and corruption, have no requirement to admit any student and can dismiss a student at any time. Still, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter defended them during an awkward appearance on MSNBC where he also defended the cuts.
Philadelphia public school teachers have been negotiating a new contract and are dealing with several draconian proposals by the state-appointed School Reform Commission, which is looking to get Philadelphia schools out of debt (mostly through layoffs and privatization). To meet some of the Philadelphia school employees who lost their jobs this month, visit this site.
In the end, the closings will mean more overcrowding in the remaining public schools and higher unemployment in an already poor city.
Good thing there's about 4,000 new beds about to open up just outside the city.