The School District of Philadelphia currently employs only four certified librarians – a far cry from the 176 school librarians the district had in 1991.
And while suburban school libraries are flush with librarians, their shelves have been accommodating fewer and fewer books.
Two very distinct problems with one common source – Republicans in positions of power.
The root of Philadelphia’s problems stems from the historically inadequate and inequitable funding in school districts like Philadelphia’s across the state. Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Jubelirer’s (a Republican) confirmed this finding in a verdict earlier this year. No sooner was her decision made public than House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler called the ruling “disappointing, but not surprising from a state judiciary that consistently identifies itself as a legislature to reach policy gains political allies cannot achieve in the General Assembly.” Cutler further commented that school choice was the solution to the problems facing districts like Philadelphia, even though Philadelphia lost certified librarians at a record pace only after school choice, in the form of tax credits and charter schools, became available.
While Republicans in the state legislature are responsible for the diminished resources in poorer school districts such as Philadelphia’s, Republican dominated school boards are responsible for the lack of resources in many well-to-do districts outside of the city. In 2021, MAGA conservatives convinced many suburban families that their children were being deprived of basic liberties due to “draconian measures” like mask mandates, that Democratic school boards had taken. Once in office, however, rather than extending additional freedoms to students, they banned popular books from the library, and whitewashed certain topics so that teaching about historical racism was disparaged and teaching about institutional racism was forbidden.
Although the Republicans have wreaked considerable damage in many of the school districts across the commonwealth, their actions are not irreversible. That’s because you have the power to control what is happening at the legislative level as well as the school board level. This weekend there are opportunities to canvass for a state representative in Delaware County, as well as for school board members in Bucks County. Below are the details.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Democrats hold only a one vote majority in the Pennsylvania House. But that can change this month unless Healther Boyd wins the general election on May 16. Click on this link to help Heather out this weekend.
2. Help candidates running for school board in Central Bucks this weekend. Central Bucks has been at the forefront of restricting LGBTQ+ freedoms and limitating access to instructional materials concerning race and sexuality.
3. Save the date: Saturday, May 13, at 1 PM. We will be helping school board candidates in Perkiomen Valley School District win election fight the book banning and other anti-equity practices taking place in that district.