Fellow local Philly blogger Josh Kruger turned me onto this article originally posted on Philly.com: Budget crisis shutters libraries at 2 top schools. In short, because of yet again more budget cuts, two Philadelphia school’s need to close their frequently used libraries due to not having the funds to maintain a librarian. Now before you read on, you need to understand that if there is one group or generation I’ve always felt needed the most support, it’s our youth. They have the least amount of say in what happens to their futures and therefore I feel it is our goal as a society to ensure they have the most possibilities and opportunities that we can provide.
Now onto why I know Philly Libraries are closing because you don’t care.
The quest for knowledge is one of the things that make us as a species great. From performers to politicians, to the great minds that create and invent every day, the ability to learn and share has become crucial to our growth as a society. But what happens when that gets taken away? What happens when the human mind is deprived of opportunities to grow? It stalls. Both Central High School and Masterman are noted for having large prestigious libraries that are frequented over 100,000 times a year. And now they are closed. And I get it, it’s hard to fund schools when funding is cut. Drastic decisions must be made. Taking a look back on many of these institution’s first day, there were classrooms with no desks, children were sitting on floors, and staff were in short supply.
So what did the community do about it?
They marched, they held meetings, and started protests. They essentially complained and pointed fingers of blame. They saw those administrators with their large pay checks and fancy cars, and thought, “Gee some of that money should be spent on the kids.” And in some sense they are right. An administrator should only be paid based off of the success they bring to the district. But that’s not going to change – right now. Unions hold wages, teachers walk out when they don’t get the payments they want, and government puts tighter and tighter holds on where the funding is spent. It’s really sad. Imagine, teachers who dedicate their time for the children, who are not getting what they need as it is, have in the past, turned their backs. These role models, these go-to influences would rather walk out on their children because they did not receive a raise. It’s truly sad.
So what should the community do?
Learning centers are closing. Budgets are being cut because those that are in power don’t find education as a top priority, both local and state wide. That’s fine, we are all entitled to our own opinion of what’s most important for society as a whole. Lesson learned Philadelphia. Don’t invite them back when elections come around. But for now? Stop pointing fingers and blaming politics, blaming leaders, and blaming the institution. If you’re really that passionate and care that much about helping your children grow mentally, then it’s time to move! Go to your schools and volunteer. Incorporate the student body. Show the students the beginnings of running a business. Some say this is deprofessionalizing librarians, that it takes away from all that a trained librarian can provide. But I can not image that there is not at least one parent that has been, knows, or is related to someone who is/was a librarian. Peer teaching may not provide an end all, be all solution, but it’s a start.
Say what you will, but having a few dedicated parents and students focused on helping the student body grow mentally may not be the solution we all hope for, but it’s a much better solution than removing the learning opportunities all together.
What are your thoughts on the budget crises in Philadelphia? Do you have what it takes to stand up, dedicate time, and provide for the future – I know I do. So Central High, Masterman, if you really want to look to the future, call me, I’ll help you get a volunteer program started. Because someone has to lead the charge.