by Daryl Gale
The way local politicians, advocates, and school district officials are shouting doom and gloom from the rooftops and tearing their hair out these days may tend to have the opposite of the intended effect.
It shouldn’t. But I understand how it happens.
It’s like the weather report we get at least once every winter. Every forecaster on every channel opens the broadcast by screaming about the storm of the century, and how we should prepare for the worst. They show us the interactive maps and the eye-in-the-sky storm chasers bring us the dramatic precipitation photos, and the next thing you know, everyone and their neighbor is at the local Walmart stocking up on bread, milk, shovels and rock salt.
Then when the latest storm of the century turns out to be just a light dusting, we grumble about the forecasters playing it up for ratings and move on. But the next time it happens, we don’t bother running out for groceries.
In the case of the dire predictions for the School District of Philadelphia, though, those urgent warnings you’ve been hearing aren’t just hyped up threats by bureaucrats looking for more money—there is a real crisis here on our doorstep.
Imagine a school district without any of the things that make the educational experience bearable, interesting, or even dare we say fun. No sports of any kind—heck, not even gym class. No wood shop, metal shop or industrial arts. No music, no band, no glee club, no debate team, no chess club. No libraries, no nurses, and no classroom aides or non-teaching assistants.
As Mayor Michael Nutter told the Philadelphia Tribune Editorial Board last Tuesday, Philadelphia faces this very real possibility when schools open in September—if schools open in September.