The city of Philadelphia was recently voted one of the most attractive cities to live in. From 2006 to 2012, the city’s population grew after declining for 50 years.
While Philly is enjoying success as the latest thriving city, its public school system hasn’t been without its flaws. According to a series produced by NPR, the city’s child poverty rate is close to 40 percent.
At Julia de Burgos Elementary School in North Philly, for example, almost every child lives at or below the federal poverty line.
The public school situation in Philadelphia is grim. The district is broke. The governor cut more than $1 billion from the state’s K-12 budget, which hit the state-controlled Philadelphia district hardest.
At the school year’s start, the district laid off thousands of employees, cut programs and services, and kept 23 underpopulated city schools closed this year. De Burgos just absorbed some 250 kids, an upheaval that’s still in progress. That’s put enormous strain on students, parents and teachers — especially when you throw in persistent poverty.
When children are living in poverty, their learning abilities sharply decline. Lower-income kids enter grades with poorer language skills than children in higher income brackets. While Philadelphia’s poverty rate declined from a year ago, it still remains the highest among the largest U.S. cities at 12.9 percent.
NPR reports that teachers are even spending more money out of pocket to provide supplies, even toilet paper for students.
The link between poverty and learning is strong. How can we better serve our students? Where do we start?
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