by Sonia Giebel
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has been airing a radio ad criticizing Gov. Corbett and his fellow politicians for building a $400 million prison – complete with air-conditioned cells, classrooms, and a librarian – at a time when Philadelphia's schools are being cut to the bone.
“What are their priorities?" the ad asks. "Building classrooms in prisons while turning our schools into holding pens?”
Facing a $304 million budget gap, more than 3,800 District employees -- including teachers, librarians, counselors, noontime aides, and central-office staff -- were laid off in the wake of the District’s austerity measures. The District will also close 24 schools this year.
After the loss of federal stimulus funds, Corbett cut education funding by nearly $1 billion in 2011, sparking a statewide funding crisis across school districts. The loss of federal money to corrections and medical assistance was replaced by state funding, but education dollars were not.
The new prison will replace the 84-year-old Graterford prison in Collegeville, Montgomery County. As NBC10 reported, some misinformation had spread when many believed the city of Philadelphia was building the prison. Mayor Nutter, earlier this month, took to Twitter to clarify that the city is not responsible for the funding and construction of the new prison.
News Flash - the "prison" that some are talking about is NOT in Phila, has NOTHING to do with Phila, and it is REPLACING 3 prisons in Pa.
— Michael A. Nutter (@Michael_Nutter) June 14, 2013
The ad’s release comes days after a leaked poll suggested that Corbett could increase his popularity if he challenges the teachers' union, especially when it comes to teacher seniority.