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On budget reductions and school conditions: What teachers are seeing

By the Notebook on Aug 16, 2013 10:24 AM

by Erin Rooney

Residents of Philadelphia are counting down the days until the city’s public schools open. We are faced with insufficient funds and abundant worry about the School District’s ability to open safe and functioning schools. Amid a massive budget crisis, the District has slashed numerous positions, programs, and resources. These reductions raise serious concerns.

Of course, this budget crisis and its consequences have been in progress for a few years. Schools have been working with reductions in staffing, programming, and funding since the start of the 2011-12 school year, the same year I began data collection in two neighborhood schools as part of a dissertation study on teachers’ working conditions. Though I did not intend to research the impacts of budget reductions at the local school level, this reality inevitably surfaced in conversations with teachers about their work. 

Below I share a few of the many lessons that I gleaned from speaking with teachers. They are important to consider as we enter the school year with our city’s schools drastically underfunded.

School facilities: “It’s very unclean and dilapidated, and I feel like it should not be a school.” 

It’s no secret that some of Philadelphia’s public school buildings are dated and in disrepair. Even the nicest school buildings suffer when there are reduced maintenance services. Teachers bemoaned the deteriorating conditions of their school buildings as maintenance crews were cut and the cleanliness of the school buildings declined over the course of the school year. 

The overall impact that a school building has on teachers and students cannot be overstated. In my study, the reduced maintenance services shaped teachers’ daily experiences. One teacher said, “When I walk in the back doors, it smells, it’s dirty, it’s disgusting.” Certainly, other issues will take precedence as the city works to open schools on time. But we have to think through school facilities as well. We have to consider the messages that the conditions of our school buildings send to the children and the adults who inhabit them each day.

Short on staff, short on support: “I think it’s the worst year for the school. ... The loss of staff has really affected us.” 

The above quote was uttered by a teacher at an Empowerment school. For many in the School District, the term “Empowerment” was synonymous with scripted instruction and increased monitoring. What people tend to forget is that, at one point in time, this model brought additional financial and human capital to struggling schools. Those services were severely reduced in the 2011-12 school year, weakening this particular school’s ability to support struggling students, and to build stronger home-school connections. Furthermore, instructional programming suffered when there were not enough adults to implement instructional interventions in the manner prescribed.

Staffing reductions compromise how schools organize rosters and what services can be offered on a consistent basis. This year, as schools negotiate changes within the Common Core state standards, it is imperative that a variety of supports are available to help students. Undoubtedly, schools will struggle to provide a consistent, coherent, and supportive educational program with fewer supports in place.

Reduced opportunity for teacher collaboration: “Unless you make time during lunch, or before school, or after school, that’s really the only time that we have to come together.” 

High-achieving schools encourage teachers to learn from their colleagues and often organize time during the week for teachers to plan and problem-solve together. In Philadelphia, it is challenging to find time for teachers to work and learn together during the school day. 

At the time of my data collection, grade-level meetings among teachers were nearly nonexistent as there simply were not enough people in the building to provide teachers with a weekly meeting time. This year, we have a massive budget crisis coupled with significant movement of staff members across the District. Under these conditions, it is unrealistic to expect that schools and teachers will be able to build the kind of professional community common to schools that achieve high levels of student learning.

The early lessons presented above are just that -- early lessons. Undoubtedly, they will pale in comparison to the conditions under which schools will operate this year. Though the District estimated, before closing 24 schools, that almost a quarter of its seats were empty, the fact is that plenty of Philadelphia’s children will be sitting in School District seats this year. As the nation prepares to raise standards and create shared goals through the Common Core state standards, here in Philadelphia, we laid off more than 3,800 teachers and staffers, decimating the very conditions necessary for increased achievement.  

Erin Rooney is an advanced doctoral student in Urban Education at Temple University and a former School District teacher.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

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Comments (70)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 11:28 am
This is all fine and good, but get specific. If you really want people to understand the impact of slashed funding, tell them what's really going on in these schools. As well as what's NOT going on.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 12:55 pm
Sounds pretty specific to me.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 12:38 pm
PFT MUST CHALLENGE THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE SRC AND THEIR ABILITY TO CHANGE THE LAW!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 12:28 pm
that over... now its time for us to vote out Corbett, Clarke, Dwight Evans, and all the other politicians that are gaining from the destruction of public education.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 12:57 pm
In my school, bathrooms smell like subway stations, there are cracks in walls and pipes. Tiles hang from ceilings and cracked panes of glass fill the windows. The building is only 50 years old and yet it is not a place I would want my own children to attend every day. Aside from that, we come every day and give all of ourselves to our students. We bring plants for the windowsills, toilet paper for the bathrooms, tissues for the children, paper, pencils, I could go on and on. All that being said, we cannot attract and keep dedicated and talented teachers in this school district. Not because of poorly maintained buildings or lack of supplies. We cannot attract and keep them because of the way the SDP devalues teachers and fails to give us the respect and support that we need and deserve as professionals. When that problem is rectified, more of us will be attracted and will stay.
Submitted by Cheryl M. (not verified) on August 19, 2013 5:03 am
What is the name of the school? No one will find out if you mention it because you're anonymous. However, if the name is mentioned as an example of "substandard" conditiond that children must deal with, we can shine a spotlight on a problem. If you know a problem exists and you remain silent, as well as the other adults, who know this problem EXISTS and PERSISTS, who shrug it off and say "Hey, not my problem"... In fact if you know your school is a "hot mess" then say something or do something!! What is the principal doing about this problem? That sounds like the problem right there...what are the parents doing? Do they even know about this?
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on August 19, 2013 10:15 am
Every school in the district is the name.
Submitted by retired Phila. reading teacher (not verified) on August 19, 2013 10:55 am
When reading is something you do for test prep (not because you're interested in the subject), you can develop a habit of not bothering with comprehension. The mandated curriculum created for reading (supposedly to raise test scores, including scores in reading comprehension!) has turned a whole generation of students into poor readers (call them "illiterate" or call them "aliterate," the root cause is not expecting anything worthwhile to happen when you read something). We used to have things like project-based learning, 100 Book Challenge, I-Search papers, and other structures that helped students find something they cared about in a book, article or website. Since NCLB, not so much.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 12:57 pm
This article captures well just a few of the issues facing our schools. Often professionals in other fields criticize the professionalism of teachers. I often reply by asking questions about the conditions under which they work. At your place of business does it smell? Are the droppings of mice on your desk each morning? Do you have hand soap toilet paper? Is the water that runs in your building yellow in color? Does the chair you sit in have screws sticking out of it or a crack that will pinch your legs? When you make a photo copy do you provide your own paper? Do you sweep or vacuum your own office? Have you ever been on lockdown in your place of work? (the list goes on) The working conditions of teachers are the learning conditions of our students. The fact that the students that are served by the SDP are poor does not give the state, city or anyone the right to expect that they deserve less than clean and safe buildings. It is shameful and discriminatory. Equality in education is the civil rights issue of our day.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 2:08 pm
Well said.
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on August 16, 2013 12:49 pm
Meanwhile, we are suppose to implement RtII (Response to Intervention and Instruction) with fidelity. We have neither the staff nor "out of the box" materials required for implementation. This is especially problematic in high schools. Meanwhile, magnet schools will be labelled "proficient" because they will have far fewer students needing remediation - or they will dump those students. Same with many charters.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 1:50 pm
RTII = Dump It On the Teachers Just one more way that the school district of Philadelphia is shirking its responsibilities. You will have to conduct small groups for this useless program while your oversized class works on "projects" that you will have to make by hand (because we aren't ordering books this year). No aides either (not that I've seen alot in the past.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 12:53 pm
In our school, the kindergarteners faced 50-degrees temperatures most winter Mondays as the antiquated boiler was shut down weekends. Perhaps the District might revive the one-room school with its central wood stove.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 12:52 pm
RTII is a joke.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 1:43 pm
RTII is based on years of research. The sdp is just not implementing it correctly.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 1:30 pm
RTII nonsense and you know it. Social promotion is a large part of the problem. Start flunking kids who want to do nothing all year or fight. Put special ed. children in classes taught by special ed. teachers. Stop using mainstream classrooms as dumping bins for students that the district doesn't want to deal with anymore.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 1:21 pm
RTI is not nonsense when implemented properly. What the SDP calls RTII is not what it is supposed to look like. RTI is a systematic approach that provides interventions to students when necessary. But the issue is...the SDP has not funded research based interventions. It sounds to me that you are uninformed as to what RTI is.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 2:07 pm
RTTT, like NCLB, is part of corporate education reform meant to vilify teachers for social conditions over which they have no control. Its use of high performance tests to attack teachers and schools with a low income population is the method they use to shut down schools and replace them with charters. Once they get rid of seniority, RTTT will be a major part of rating teacher "performance" in schools and firing them.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Well maybe you need to be concerned about being evaluated using RTII data since you keep referring to it as RTTT!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 5:10 pm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_to_the_Top
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on August 16, 2013 2:26 pm
I agree, If you see/read about how other places implement RTI, it can be done well. However, the SDP, as usual, has tried to do it on the cheap with fewer resources than necessary.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 3:37 pm
What resources? We had the leftovers from Corrective Reading and Math dumped on us. The problem is the expectation that everyone else in the class will quietly work on something else while you get to teach a small RTII group is crap. Only an Philly administrator would think that could work. One that has been out of the classroom for too long.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 3:46 pm
I know how it's done here in Philly and it is a waste of time so whether I know the official way or not is pointless. Like Corrective Reading and Math the school district does whatever financially benefits the administration and could care less if it works in the classroom. It will not be implemented properly. I was informed as to how higher ups wanted it done and it does not work.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 4:48 pm
sounds like you know how to implement excuses.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 4:29 pm
Easy for someone that's sitting on sidelines. I've tried and so have my colleagues, none of whom had anything good to say about it. Just more work dumped on main stream teachers. Sounds like you have a financial interest in this program continuing no matter how poorly it does.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 5:23 pm
I'm am not sitting on any sideline nor do I have a financial interest in RTII. I just find it intolerable when individuals make comments that have nothing to do with the issues. You make yourself sound lazy and uneducated. It's is your job to provide interventions. Stop making excuses.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 8:34 pm
Yes, it is the teacher's job to provide interventions, and that we do. But if you think RTII is an isolated teacher doing interventions in the classroom, then you have no idea what RTII is. There are many urban school districts that implement RTII the way it is supposed to be implemented, and they have achieved great results. The problem in the SDP is that there are no resources here to implement it properly. It's not an excuse. It's a fact.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 8:32 pm
Rtii is a joke in this district. How are we supposed to implement it when the district doesn't give us the resources to use it. Every math resource wasn't available to us. When I asked my principal to provide the technology resources, he said there was no money in the budget. How are we supposed to help these kids if we don't have the resources to do so?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 19, 2013 3:01 pm
Your own ignorance of the situation is why you think that my comments have nothing to do with the issues. Who says it's my "job to provide interventions"? What I said has everything to do with the situation which you obviously refuse or can't grasp. We were told what "interventions" we were to use. Unforunately the person in charge of that aspect is overworked and does not have all the supplies necessary. A child who is a couple of grades behind needs to repeat that grade. A couple of twenty minute sessions will not bring them up to speed. I think your own laziness and insecurity is the cause of your attacks. If you're not on the sidelines then tell us how you have successfully implemented RTII in your own classroom. Until then RTII is just another way of spelling CSAP and just as useless.
Submitted by Cheryl M. (not verified) on August 19, 2013 5:03 am
Agree!
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on August 17, 2013 10:10 am
None 0% of the kids in my 11th grade English class read at grade level. If they only had a rule that you cannot get promoted to 9th grade unless you read at a say a 6th ( I would take 5th) grade level learning might take place. Yet every year I get a class with say 30% functional illiterates and the rest reading abound a 5th grade level and I am supposed to follow a curriculum designed for students who actually know how to read. Yet I am the bad one in this equation. Curious?
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on August 17, 2013 12:54 pm
Poogie - In other words, push'em through the system. How many of them will graduate and get a diploma? It's one of the reasons why I don't put allot of faith in graduation rates. Are they college ready? Do they have the skills to get a union trade job?
Submitted by Christa (not verified) on August 17, 2013 11:05 pm
and this would be because we are told at the elementary level that no one can fail...Well not exactly those words but when you do fail someone, its like defending a dissertation to have the failure stick OR the principal goes behind your back and changes the grade. If the student has an IEP, you aren't even allowed to give a D. We are also so pressed for time at the elementary level to get in a certain amount of independent and group work that we do not have the time to spend with students to make sure they are truly on level in reading. Class sizes of 25+ make it impossible to implement remediation for those who need it. WE honestly do not want to send them on to the next grade because we know they aren't ready BUT when administration tells you to pass people anyway , it puts you in a tough spot. If you don't do it yourself, principals will do it for you or demand that you give students a project or other work to "bring up their grade"
Submitted by Cheryl M. (not verified) on August 19, 2013 6:57 am
What school is this? Unless you have it documented that you have a class full of students who read BELOW grade 5th grade level, I advise you to beware of that indictment.,there are three types of readers-those who are literate, illiterate and aliterate. I am the parent of an aliterate student. He had teachers thinking he had reading issues - i had him tested by an outside agency, and the result was HE could read words at/above grade level, but his comprehension skills needed improvement. He said in school reading was boring, some kids read too slow, too fast or the teacher talked while students were reading- all those things annoyed him. He is one of millions of students who can read BUT choose not to read.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 19, 2013 9:42 am
So, if a student "chooses" to not do well on a state test (for whatever reason), then the teacher who is responsible for him/her is to blame. Your comment supports the belief that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink. We now want to "judge" teachers on how well the kids do on state tests. Seems unreliable to me.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on August 19, 2013 9:59 am
A big part of reading level is comprehension. If I can read a word but I don't know what it means than I don't understand. Otherwise, I am a word caller.
Submitted by retired Phila. reading teacher (not verified) on August 19, 2013 10:44 am
When reading is something you do for test prep (not because you're interested in the subject), you can develop a habit of not bothering with comprehension. The mandated curriculum created for reading (supposedly to raise test scores, including scores in reading comprehension!) has turned a whole generation of students into poor readers (call them "illiterate" or call them "aliterate," the root cause is not expecting anything worthwhile to happen when you read something). We used to have things like project-based learning, 100 Book Challenge, I-Search papers, and other structures that helped students find something they cared about in a book, article or website. Since NCLB, not so much.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on August 19, 2013 2:18 pm
As a former reading specialist who actually did teach reading in high school for almost 20 years, I agree with you. Test preparation teaches very bad reading habits which are counterproductive to the cognitive processes we use when we read analytically and deeply. Test prep teaches kids to read to find an answer to a question which most often is a multiple choice question. Authentic reading for normal purposes is way more effective in increasing overall cognitive development. Reading lessons are much more effective in terms of cognitive growth when Socratic questioning is used to "develop comprehension." You need a stand up teacher for that -- the probing question is essential. Small classes help a whole lot, too.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 19, 2013 3:07 pm
That's right, children read at various levels which means they will read at various speeds too. You're blaming teachers for that!?! Sorry, but we have no say over who the principal puts into our classes. It will be even worse with less help and supplies, but bloated classes this year. There are kids that were probably bored when the teacher went to help your kid read. Usually children will read ahead of the others if they can read above level. As long as the administration lumps several grace levels together this problem is remaining. I have always felt that reading classes should be multi-grade level, based on reading ability, not age or grade. But who listens to teachers these days? What are you doing at home to improve your child's comprehension?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 2:11 pm
The SDP is not implementing RTII at all. We have to pretend we are implementing it and update it regularly in Schoolnet. But no one is doing it because it cannot be, nor is it supposed to be, done by the teacher isolated in his/her classroom.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 3:18 pm
Pretend is right. Spend time going through the motions with absolutely NO follow up or intervention of any consequence. Truancy a problem? Well, teacher, what did YOU do about it? How did YOU fix it? Did you knock on doors before school? No?! Well, you are indeed failing these students. A bunch of crap!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 17, 2013 2:47 pm
Yes, but the SDP gets to claim to the public that they are implementing RTII. As Hemingway put it so well: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 19, 2013 1:50 pm
Yes, you are right. I amend my original post: it is a joke in the way it is being (rather not being) implemented in Philly. With no resources in materials, staff or specialists, it basically means you are recording what you normally do as a teacher anyway. There is no additional help for the students. That is not RTII.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 1:05 pm
I know Erin Rooney because I was a participating teacher in her research and she visited my classroom many times. I shared very honest feelings with her and the frustrations of my of my colleagues. What Erin has written only touches on a FEW of the MANY problems facing our schools on a daily basis. If Erin wrote some of the things I shared with her it would shock most (except my colleagues) because of my complete honesty about the daunting (yes, daunting) task of truly trying to educate students in the School District of Philadelphia...I say, Erin WRITE MORE!!!!!!!!! I agree with everything you have written but so much more needs to be said!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 1:21 pm
Yes, thumbs up to Erin. It good to hear from the perspective of teachers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 1:32 pm
Lunch time? What's that? We have to hold it for four hours until lunch because there are no bathroom breaks for teachers anymore. You wait until lunch to go. You are also expected to use your lunch hour for detention because the principals don't want any kids hanging around after school. These are all the ways the school district continues to steal our own time from us.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 3:01 pm
How about the cockroaches the size of small birds, the mouse droppings on every table and bookshelf, the fact that there is no soap, toilet paper or paper towels in the kids' bathrooms. I had to provide all of the above daily. If these conditions existed anywhere else, the place would be shut down. Especially if that place served food. Oh, wait, these schools do serve food. In fact, occasionally the mice do get into their lunches. And yet, these conditions are acceptable. Huh... I'm surprised the plague hasn't made a return.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 5:38 pm
Maybe that is where a chunk of the unrecorded money has gone....to pay off officials for unclean and hazardous working/learning conditions? How do these buildings pass inspections? Fire escapes that are literally falling apart, overcrowded conditions, still evidence of asbestos, lead paint and obvious signs of infestations. I think it is time to invite the media into our schools. So many times we are coached on how 'not to speak' about serious incidents. These conditions are horrible and I believe we need to stop covering them up. I know it sounds mean but if many children get sent home dirty because the school did not have toilet paper and soap the parents would complain and the situation would change. If students get sick because of rat, mice or roach transferred disease the parents will get mad and change will happen. It seems that the only time change occurs is when 440 or the parents complain, otherwise teachers are hushed by the administration. We need more Helen Gyms. We need the parents to speak up in numbers for what their children deserve. Our bad working conditions are their bad learning conditions.
Submitted by charlie manueal (not verified) on August 18, 2013 3:04 am
You need to tell your principal to stop letting everyone eat in the classrooms ....that would end your ant, mice and Roach parades.....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 9:21 am
uh, ok. the buildings are INFESTED.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 3:03 pm
I agree....write on Erin....tell it like it TRULY is.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 3:19 pm
Speak for us Erin. We need an intelligent thoughtful voice.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 7:41 pm
How can any teacher be loyal to a school district that treats its staff this way. It seems like they want teaching to become like every other profession--just chase the money since employers have no loyalty for employees so employees will have no loyalty to their employer. My wife and I wanted to make our life and career in Philadelphia but when she's done school we'll do what everyone else has done in Philly, go out west, get paid better in a lower stress district in a state that isn't threatening to take away my retirement.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 17, 2013 11:18 am
Sadly, two of the best young teachers in my high school have done just that, over the summer. One went to another district, another to a charter. Who can blame young people who are just starting families for looking out for their own children when there pay and benefits are going to be cut ? These young men, who were not laid off, were leaders who inspired students and supported them. Decent, hard working, dedicated teachers who should have had bright futures in the school district are leaving because they feel the powerless and disillusioned by the chaos brought about by the "Churn". Those who are indifferent, or too self absorbed to even notice, will stay on, and on, and on, until we are closed down completely. We will be left with a concentration of unwanted students and unwanted teachers before the district is wholly privatized. These Broad people better have great 401K's because there won't be jobs for them, as well.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 4:11 pm
Totally off the topic. However, due to the financial situation in the district, could someone clarify two questions for me? 1. How many years does it take to become fully vested in the pension? 2. How many years does it take for a teacher to become "tenured"? I have searched high and low on the SDP website, but could not find anything. Thanks
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 5:16 pm
1. 5 years 2. 3 years
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on August 18, 2013 9:47 pm
5 years has been changed back to 10. It should never have been changed to 5. That is part of the problem.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 9:03 pm
Where'd you get this info from?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 9:43 pm
My understanding is that this 5 to 10 year vesting change only affects those who didn't have their 5 years of service by July 2011.
Submitted by Christa (not verified) on August 18, 2013 10:10 pm
PSERS has different contribution classes depending on when your employment begins. Anyone in Class T-C or class T-D is vested after 5 years, anyone in class T-E or T-F is vested after 10 years. People need to get their info correct, especially because it is readily available. This comment is in regards to people who have posted below. Tenure is after 3 years
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 7:20 pm
Yes, write/right on Erin.
Submitted by Gtown_teach (not verified) on August 16, 2013 7:50 pm
It's funny. The working conditions of teachers are not subject to OSHA. Many of the buildings that we work in would be given citations if we were subject to OSHA.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2013 10:09 pm
Funny, my principal has a fit and even writes teachers up for wearing open-toed shoes because of OSHA!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 17, 2013 11:50 am
I attended OSHA training given by the school district to CTE teachers. The first part was two weeks long. At the end of the training, we were told OSHA does not apply to the school district.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 17, 2013 10:46 pm
Why doesn't OSHA apply to the school district?
Submitted by Anon (not verified) on August 18, 2013 12:47 pm
The rep from OSHA who assisted in the class shrugged his shoulders at that. He did not give a good answer.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 12:11 am
Over the last 10 years the building has progressively deteriated - in many areas the paint is peeling and it continually smells of urine and mildlew. But what is most alarming, and correlates with the physical decline is the annual culling of staff and services for our students. With each new school year there is less and less - no classroom assistants(especially in kindergarten), no NTAs, no reading coach (reading specialists were eliminated about15years ago), no math coach, no gifted support teacher, no home and school coordinator, no attendance worker, no Fulltime nurse (only 1.5 days/week), no school climate manager, no parent ombudsman, no student advisor, skeletal cleaning staff, ...and now over 3800 assistant principals, school Counselors, secretaries, school nurses, supportive service assistants and teachers. Even the best Philly schools have been hobbled. The SDP is labeled a distressed district - yes, it is distressing to be an observer of the dismemberment of our schools and the SDP.
Submitted by rscherf1 (not verified) on August 18, 2013 3:40 pm
FYI There are only two mechanics in a district of over 260 schools that work on fixing and controlling the hvac systems. Those two mechanics also have to work on installing and upgrading the computer systems in the schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2013 8:56 pm
Just out of curiousity, has any laid off teacher been recalled yet? I'm wondering how they are determining who is most valuable. Do the principals have say in bringing people back?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 19, 2013 3:00 pm
One thing I'm seeing is the lack of Readers' Comments in the Daily Snooze and Inky. They have done away with those sections now on-line. Instead we get headlines from Hite saying schools will open. Hope the newsfolk are willing to pitch in and teacher come Sept. 9th. Your boy Hite will be there, provided he hasn't skipped town already.

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