Last night, our Philly Teachers Sound The Alarm campaign broke the story about the student-made bomb detonated outside of Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences.
The grievance, submitted by Special Education Teacher Ray Porreca, made a clear statement about what had happened at the school:
"We need to understand that the root causes of these types of incidents are political and can be traced back to the budget cuts."
Too often, these tragic incidents appear as headlines without any backstory. Looking at the big picture, however, the pattern of negligence and denied resources is clear. This school year, FSAS has been grappling with the following cuts:
* An 83% decrease in counseling services (from 3 down to 0.5 staff)
* A 75% decrease in school police officers (from 2 down to 0.5 staff)
* A 56% decrease in safety staff (from 9 down to 4 staff)
* A loss of their only assistant principal
These systemic cuts--typical across the District--have ravaged the support systems of the school. In Dan Denvir's City Paper report on the incident, he acknowledged this, but also noted that, "it's difficult to describe the full picture of violent incidents in Philadelphia public schools since they are not always publicly announced."
The Caucus of Working Educators commends the staff of FSAS for two brave acts on Wednesday: taking care of their students during the incident, and also sharing the incident with the general public. By speaking out, Porreca broke the code of silence that pervades our schools and succeeded in calling out the situation for what it is: a systemic failure.
If you are an educator in the School District of Philadelphia, we urge you to share your story with us today at phillyteachers.org. Showing the public the true state of our schools is necessary in order to win back the resources and support that our students deserve.
If we don't speak out now, our struggles will be reduced to yet another headline.