The opening of a new library this month at Bache-Martin Elementary in Fairmount has been reported as a feel-good story – one about a community pulling together to fund and build something that most students in Philadelphia haven’t seen in years. The occasion was considered so momentous that Mayor Kenney, City Council President Darrell Clarke, and U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans were there to celebrate what theInquirer headline proclaimed to be a “miracle.”
But there is nothing miraculous about communities having to fend for themselves in providing the necessary resources for Philadelphia students. A true miracle would be the District making a commitment to bringing back libraries and librarians in all schools.
A “Hunger Games” mentality has seeped into our collective consciousness. Teachers create GoFundMe accounts for supplies and school trips. Elementary students write letters to local politicians to plead for new playground equipment. High school seniors reach out to community donors to put books and furniture in an underused classroom to create a school library.
Movie and sports stars select schools to receive new playgrounds, local politicians and District officials show up for the ribbon-cutting, and the news stories celebrate yet another charitable event, as we witness the continual underfunding of the city’s public schools.
Equity is a stated goal of Superintendent William Hite’s Action Plan. But how can equity be achieved when children have to be in the right place at the right time – where parents have the time and skills to write grants, community members have enough free time to volunteer, and elected officials respond to their letters pleading for resources?