Back To School in Philadelphia, Minus the Budget

Monday, September 09, 2013

This month parents, students, teachers, and administrators around the country are adjusting to the challenges of a new school year.

But in Philadelphia, the challenges aren’t just about new schedules or reading assignments—they’re about severely cut budgets. In June, 20 percent of the district’s employees were laid off, schools were shut down, and teachers are now being pressured to accept deep wage cuts.

Karen Thomas is Principal of Cook-Wissahickon Elementary, which has lost the equivalent of four full-time staff members.

And Robin Dominick is the parent of a fourth grader and a second grader at Powell Elementary, a school whose student body will be increasing by nearly 20 percent beginning today, which is the first day of school in Philadelphia.

Charles Zogby, Budget Secretary for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, weighs in on what the government is doing amidst the budgetary crisis. 


Robin Dominick, Karen Thomas and Charles Zogby

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer


T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

Dr SJ Bramhall from New Zealand

Philadelphia could easily solve its school budget crisis by copying Pittsburgh and adopting a Land Value Tax form of property tax. In this way the tax burden would be shifted off small business and low and moderate income families and onto property developers where it belongs. It would also raise sufficient revenue to cover school and city infrastructure costs without closing schools, laying off teachers or borrowing more money. See

Sep. 10 2013 01:36 AM
David from Austin

The funding problem of the Philadelphia schools is one more facet of America's pervasive financial malaise, which stems from a simple root cause: the drastic under-taxation of the country's super-rich.

Instead of paying the bills and educating our citizens, for 30 years our nation's wealth has been squandered on pretentious mansions and luxury trinkets, offshored in secret accounts, and plowed into venture capital shenanigans. The right wing steadily chiseled away at the tax brackets for our most overpaid citizens, leaving the rest of the country in the lurch, as an intentional long term plan to morph the rising American democracy of the 1960s into a dwarf doppelganger oligarchy version of itself.

That is why Philadelphia can't fund its schools, why we are danger in debt to China, why college is unaffordable, and why the military is being under-funded at a time of grave global threat.

It is time for NPR to report to the American listeners on the tax levels paid by high-income people in Europe, which range up to 60% in several countries that now have higher average standards of living than we do as a result. NPR could interview some of the CEOs and wealthy in Europe and get their take on why they are willing to pay their fair share and not complain about their taxes all the while, as our right wing does. Are the European wealthy simple more patriotic? Sadly, it seems so.

Sep. 09 2013 01:54 PM

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