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Woes of Philly schools cannot be overstated, Sen. Hughes declares

Exterior of the Philadelphia School District building.
Photo: Emma Lee/WHYY

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

It’s all been written before. The Philadelphia School District was in brutal financial shape last year.

Overfilled classrooms.

Guidance counselors and nurses nonexistent in schools on many days.

Cash available only for the barest of supplies and supports.

Still, "it needs to be discussed over and over and over again," said Pennsylvania Sen. Vincent Hughes at a Thursday news conference. "This is not how you achieve a 21st-century education."

Flanked by a teacher, a parent, a student, a building maintenance worker and his colleague State Sen. Larry Farnese, Hughes detailed the results of his 2013-14 School öDistrict fact-finding study.

Lowlights of the document include anecdotal reports of overwhelmed faculty, unsanitary schools, persistent HVAC problems, a second-grade classroom with more than 40 students, and high school coursework being "taught" by students.

Last week, the District announced that it would close its $81 million budget gap, in part, with additional cuts.

"The proposal that was laid out last week provides for fewer cleaning supplies, which means dirtier schools, provides for less security, provides for a loss of transportation, which amounts to a tax on children – because that’s what that is," said Hughes. "The children have to buy their own TransPasses, and they’re already deprived economically. … Is this really school?"

The teachers, parents, and education advocates joining Hughes say that Philadelphia’s public school crisis could have been averted if Gov. Corbett and the Republican-controlled state legislature passed new revenue-generating measures such as a higher tax on natural gas drilling.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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