Philadelphia Cuts School Nurses, 6th Grader Dies of Asthma Attack With No Nurse On Duty EXTENDED

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

JESSICA DESVARIEUX: And Governor Corbett has
said that education cuts are necessary to close the budget gap. But in June, the GOP-controlled
state legislature passed a corporate tax cut that’s estimated to cost the state $600-$800
million a year. That’s more than double Philadelphia schools’ deficit for the next fiscal year.
Daniel, can you explain the role of powerful interests in changing the education system
in Philadelphia? DANIEL DENVIR: Yeah. Well, first, on the revenue
side you do have Governor Corbett saying that there’s just not enough money and cuts have
to be made. Yet he has allowed corporate tax breaks to be put in place. And perhaps even
more importantly, he has refused to place a significant tax on natural gas drillers
who are exploiting massive energy reserves in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. You also
have tons of tax loopholes allowing corporations to shelter money in Delaware that there have
been many proposals to close, and he refuses to do so. So there is revenue out there. On the city level, you have major corporations
like Comcast, you have major nonprofits like the University of Pennsylvania who are getting
major property tax breaks, or in the case of these wealthy nonprofits, not getting taxed
at all. So on both the state and the city level you
have a lot of powerful interests that could be contributing more to schools that are not
doing so and politicians, starting with Governor Corbett, coming on down to Mayor Michael Nutter
in Philadelphia, are not making them do so. So that’s one piece. On the other piece–and Eileen was speaking
about that a moment ago–you know, these budget cuts have wreaked havoc in schools in Philadelphia
and in school districts around the state. You know, there are 3,000 fewer staff positions
in Philadelphia right now than there were in June, and that’s having a real disasterous
impact, from class sizes to the lack of school nurses to the lack of school counselors. And
rather than doing what’s necessary to raise
those funds to close that budget gap, what people like Governor Corbett are doing is
instead using the budget crisis as leverage to try to break the teachers unions and break
other unions in the district. That $45 million that Eileen referred to are federal dollars
that the Obama administration released to go to Philadelphia public schools. But instead
of giving them to Philadelphia schools where they belong, Governor Corbett is holding those
dollars hostage until the teachers union makes massive concessions. And the teachers union,
teachers in Philadelphia already make 19 percent less than some suburban counterparts. So by
cutting wages and benefits for Philadelphia teachers, we’re going to make it all the harder
to attract the best teachers to teach in some very challenging environments, where poverty
is very high and resources are very low. And these education reform groups, Michelle
Rhee’s group, etc., they’re–a constellation of them throughout Philadelphia and Pennsylvania
that are receiving funding for various powerful interests–they’re working with Governor Corbett
to do this. And they claim to want to improve teaching, but it’s hard to see how that’s
the case if they want teachers to take a salary cut. DESVARIEUX: Eileen, you are actually a part
of a parent staff group and have been warning about the consequences of such cuts. What
is your group doing now to address this crisis? EILEEN DIFRANCO: I would like to mention first
of all a movement that Eileen Duffy (another school nurse) and I formed in December 2011
when [incompr.] nurses were laid off. We called it Occupy 440. And we were outside the school
district headquarters for 22 weeks with a large group of people trying to let the school
district know that cutting school nurses, cutting other important personnel is a disaster
waiting to happen. So the school district has been warned. They did not speak with us.
They did not listen to us. And sadly, you know, as Dan said, we don’t
know whether a nurse would have made a difference in this situation. However, more hands, as
I said, more hands, more eyes, and more ears are always useful in preventing a disaster. From Occupy 440 [incompr.] the Alliance for
Philadelphia Public Schools. It’s a group of people that we met on the picket line in
2012. We’re current, laid-off, and retired teachers, librarians, nurses. And what we
have been doing is trying to let the public know about those special interest groups that
Daniel mentioned, the Philadelphia School Partnership, organizations like Michelle Rhee.
Her organization came to Philadelphia last month. We were outside handing out literature
letting people know about Michelle Rhee’s organization. Two weeks ago, there was a meeting
at the Union League where the Philadelphia School Partnership and other philanthropists
met. They paid $50,000 to attend this meeting, which was closed to the public, and they were
discussing ways of solving a public education crisis which was artificially created by our
governor. So we are basically trying to let people know
that the public school system is a viable organization. Some of the best schools in
the state are located in Philadelphia–Central High School, Masterman girls high, the School
of Engineering and Science. And all of that gets lost in a discussion of schools that
are not doing so well because of poverty and cutbacks. DESVARIEUX: Okay. Well, thank you both for
joining us. DENVIR: Thank you very much. DIFRANCO: You’re welcome. DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on
The Real News Network.

12 thoughts on “Philadelphia Cuts School Nurses, 6th Grader Dies of Asthma Attack With No Nurse On Duty EXTENDED

  1. Fun fact the govt knows but will not tell you- pot stops asthma attacks as a broncho/brachial/alveolar/capillary dilator that also protects all cells in the body from ischemia (damage from oxygen deprivation)

  2. the rich owners of property are the only real individuals after all. silly of you to think you deserved stuff like freedom and healthcare. providing healthcare to the population is an insufferable abrogation of freedom. the kids got to go

  3. People keep voting these people into office. Good Christians with strong morals and family values that crush the poor and slash funding for children's education and basic health care while giving even more tax breaks for the ultra-rich. That's just what Jesus would do, right? Enjoy, residents of Pennsylvania.

  4. Michelle Rhee, Koch Brothers, the Gates Foundations and their deep pocketed-backers are powerful interests hell-bent on destroying the teacher's union nationwide and other public unions. This leaves what ever is left of the education system to be gobbled up by the big banking interest. These powerful interest will turn this country into a medieval serfdom … high cost of living, low wage jobs, no benefits, extremely high healthcare cost, only gmo foods, austerity forever …. its hell!

  5. These austerity promoters have no solution but to cut cut cut. Public sector unions must unite with all other unions and anti-austerity organizations. Don't just rely on the Democratic party, they are controlled by Wall Street. Must look at other organizations on the horizon like the TAX WALL STREET PARTY. DeBlasio is already planning to sell out his supporters much like Obama has done and all other Wall Street Democrats usually do.

  6. We dont have school nurses in Belgium, but if something happened you got rushed off to the nearest ER and got treatment right away, no Insurance papers to be filled, no checklists , no waiting in line, nothing… with decent Healthcare for everyone you bypass this mess… and schools can go back to there core buissness, education! Defunding schoolresources is off course a means to an end for some, 'dumbing down' tomorrows labour and military forces into mindless mignions doing the elite bidding

  7. Ummm cutting taxes is not a cost, its lower revenue- saying that a tax cut is costing money is a lie. Just say it like it is- cutting corp. taxes has cut revenue equal to 2x the school district deficit.

  8. Corporations should shelter as much income as they can if public unions are trying to take as much taxpayer money as they can.   Eileen, how can the district hire nurses if Penn. has $50 billion in unfunded pension liabilities?   DB pensions put unlimited stock market risk onto schools.  Schools are liable for a mediocre stock market down to their last sharpie pen.  

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