However when I saw Superintendent Hite’s “doomsday budget” for 2013-2014 that cut 25% of each school’s budget, I realized that I can no longer stay silent. Because I am a public school teacher, because I have children who will begin their educational odyssey in September, because I love Philadelphia, I have to be brave enough to speak up.
Here is what I have thus far tried:
- Letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer re: Union cuts will impact classroom (Thu, Mar 7, 2013).
- Calls to my City Councilperson and to most of the at-large members to ask them to approve the $60 million requested by Dr. Hite.
- Detailed letter to City Council President Darrell L. Clarke explaining why he should support the School District’s request.
- Calls to my State Representative as well as requests to meet with her in person about the budget situation.
- Calls to my State Senator and lengthy discussion with her Chief of Staff about the funding crisis.
- Calls to Governor Corbett to record my dismay with his refusal to adequately fund the Philadelphia School District.
- Testimony before City Council on the subject of the budget cuts (Tue, Apr 30, 2013). I was briefly quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer: Phila school staff paint a doomsday budget picture (Tue, May 7, 2013).
The result of these efforts may seem negligible. City Council has not yet acted, the state has not come to our aid, the SRC seems very relaxed about next year’s budget.
Yet I think that we must make our voices heard or the only revenue the Philadelphia School District will get will be in the form of wage and benefit concessions from us, the teachers. We already do as much as we can educationally and financially for our students.
What if we bombarded the Inquirer, City Paper, The Notebook, and any other publication we can think of with letters and op-eds? What if we made our elected officials feel that doing nothing was more hazardous to their political careers than funding the school district? What if we talked to our friends and neighbors and asked them to do the same? Maybe it won’t work. But maybe -- just maybe -- it will.
We owe it to our students, our city and ourselves to do our best to resolve this crisis and to make sure a funding formula is implemented in our state that will prevent this artificial budget shortfall from ever happening again.
Liz Taylor is a Teacher with the School District of Philadelphia. To contact Ms. Taylor directly, email her at liz.taylor228[at]gmail[dot]com, or leave a comment on the blog.