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Impact of school closures in Philadelphia: 81% black students, 93% low-income students.
Mark Twain said, "Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail." Philadelphia is following his advice. Sort of. The city is closing 23 schools—and in addition to the $400 million doozy of a prison the state is building in the area, the city is spending millions on a Department of Homeland Security fusion center. The school closures will overwhelmingly hit poor students and black students, meanwhile.

Along with the 23 schools being closed, 3,783 jobs are being slashed, including 1,202 cafeteria and playground aides, 676 teachers, 283 counselors, and 127 assistant principals. MSNBC's Traci Lee writes:

Nutter argued that Philadelphia’s school system would not suffer from the closures because of the expansion of charter schools in the city, which he insisted were still public schools. He dismissed the argument that charter schools have often been criticized for their lack of accountability, and added, “My job is to make sure we have a system of great schools all across the city of Philadelphia…and that the election officials are providing the proper funding for a high-quality education regardless of what school a parent decides to send their child to.”

But high-performing schools are not exempt from the SRC’s decision: one school, M.H. Stanton Elementary School, has been collecting accolades for boosting the academic performance of low-income students, and is on the list of the schools that will be closed. M.H. Stanton was also the subject of the 1993 Academy Award-winning documentary, I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School.

“You have some buildings where there actually is a good-quality education going on,” [Philadelphia Mayor Michael] Nutter said of the high-performing schools on the SRC’s list, “but the physical plant of that building is old and decrepit.”

In other words, whatever logic will get Nutter to a public rationalization of closing a school, he'll take it. Meanwhile, the charter schools he's touting as a replacement for the public schools he's closing have been plagued by corruption. And charter schools, in Philadelphia as elsewhere, don't have to accept kids they don't want, and are free to force out problem students.

This is nothing less than an all-out assault on Philadelphia's poor kids, its black kids, its teachers and other school workers, and the idea that public education should be available equally to all kids.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 11:16 AM PDT.

Also republished by Philly Kos, DKos Pennsylvania, Black Kos community, and Daily Kos.

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