– Philadelphia Closes 23 Schools, New $400 Million Prison Being Built (Opposing Views, June 7, 2013):
Philadelphia officials are closing almost two dozen schools and decimating the budgets of the remaining schools under a so-called “doomsday” education plan.
However, amid all these cuts for education, the state of Pennsylvania is building a new $400 million prison for Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania’s School Reform Commission voted on March 7 to close 23 schools, reported the New York Times.
The same commission voted on June 1 to approve a $2.4 billion budget that will radically undercut the schools that stay open.
According to Philly.com, the budget cuts mean that “schools will open in the fall without new books, paper, clubs, counselors, librarians, assistant principals, or secretaries. Athletics, art, and music would be gone. There could be 3,000 layoffs, including some teachers. Class sizes would be larger, and schools would have no aides to help manage them or support staff to monitor lunchrooms and playgrounds.”
The schools need $304 million, but that is unlikely because the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a tax break in May for corporations. That tax break that will cost Pennsylvania $600 million to $800 million in taxes per year, notes the York Dispatch.
However, those educators who become unemployed by the cuts may be able to find jobs at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, which is going to spend an estimated $400 million for the buildings of State Correctional Institutions Phoenix I and II.
The new prison will hold 4,000 people, including male and female inmates, mentally ill people and death row inmates, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ironically, the new prison will also include a classroom.