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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Many Amenities Have Vanished from your School?

Pallbearers dressed as superheroes carry the casket of 7-year-old Sebastian Gerena at his funeral last month in Philadelphia. The boy, who had a rare heart defect, died after collapsing at a South Philadelphia public school that had no full-time nurse on duty.

I'm a lucky one.  I still have a school.  Others were disembodied in the Bloomberg era.  To differing degrees, in the last decade, we have all witnessed our landscape change for the worse.

At our school, it started with the disappearance of a sofa in the teacher's lounge.  Then, the lounges, themselves, disappeared.  We now live in department offices, sitting at worktables.  Despite all the Common Planning time, we rarely meet, professionally or socially, across the disciplines. 

Next, we lost our teachers' cafeteria.  It is still a place to sit, but it no longer serves food.  If you want warm food served by a friendly face, separate from a line with hundreds of students, you're out of luck.  Since teacher cafeterias apparently fail to generate profits, they have been closed across the City.   

Teachers lost the parking lot behind our school.  It was due to building repairs, but it appears we will never get that lot back again.  Now, in a crowded neighborhood with high rates of auto theft, teachers on the later session often have difficulty finding parking in proximity to the building.  

Then, there are the huge array of problems caused to student life by lack of funding.  To name just a few, productions, newspapers and other publications often lack sufficient funding.  Students lost their school store.  They lost access to the more convenient lockers in the building.  At the same time, they lost space, due to overcrowding.  

On a wider scale, schools have lost a whole array of services for students.  Schools have lost art, music and physical education teachers.  Some schools have lost libraries.  Other schools have lost nurses.  By and far, the situation has been the worst in Philadelphia which has suffered student fatalities with no school nurse on duty.  How do you explain that to a parent?

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