Many students at Central High shoot for top-tier colleges, but counselor Tatiana Olmedo has had to warn college officials not every student will have a letter of recommendation.And forget about counselors having the time to help students figure out what colleges they should apply to, advice that can be especially important for teens seeking to become first-generation college students, whose parents aren't familiar with the application process. Also falling by the wayside as counselors struggle to help hundreds or thousands of students make it through high school are little things like teaching students how to tell if their friends might be suicidal.
The math just doesn't add up, Olmedo said - 2,400 students, two counselors. Eight counselors used to work at the school. Students who want an appointment to see a counselor can count on a two-week wait.
"We don't know all the students, and we don't have a way of meeting them in a timely fashion," Olmedo said. Schools including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University indicated that might affect students' chances.
Philadelphia's schools are being hit by a funding crisis created by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett; their teachers are paid less than teachers in surrounding suburbs, they receive less funding per student than schools in Pittsburgh and many of the state's other cities, and school closings are disproportionately hurting low-income and black students. Now, kids who've nearly made it through and are trying to move on to college are being hurt by Corbett's cuts.