This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Under a blazing August sun, Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf practiced the politics of friendly with red-shirted members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers at Solis-Cohen Elementary School.
Union members, hoping that a Wolf win would translate into more school resources, posed for pictures and shook hands Wednesday with the man who current polling says will overtake Gov. Corbett in November.
After giving the York County businessman a warm welcome, Solis-Cohen teachers detailed how recent budget cuts have affected day-to-day operations at the 1,300-student school in Northeast Philadelphia.
Second-grade teacher Marta O’Brien grew emotional talking to Wolf as she explained how the school’s lack of basic resources has traumatized students.
"I don’t think that children should have to be degraded, to come back to a classroom and say, ‘Can I have toilet paper?’ They have to actually say, ‘I’m about to have a bowel movement’ in front of people," she said choking back tears. "Why is that OK? Why? It’s not OK.
"This is not the way people should live. And why are these children different than 30 minutes away from here? They’re not."
Wolf pledges to restore overall education funding to pre-recessionary levels by instituting a higher tax on natural gas drilling, accepting the federal Medicaid expansion and raising income taxes.