- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Should a Starving Child Live Within his Means? What about a Starving School District?
Would the Daily News tell a starving child to live within his means? Would the Mayor say that a child who was facing benefit cuts in already measly food stamps to ‘grow up,’ face reality, and get used to a regular dose of rice, beans, and malnutrition?
Of course not. In fact, in the face of growing attacks on nutrition assistance, politicians across the city are taking on the “Food Stamp Challenge.” The premise of the challenge is to illustrate just how difficult it is for a poor person to feed themselves on $35 a week, and how impossible it would be to function with even less.
Allotted just $35 for a week of food, participants will learn firsthand the anxiety-driven calculus of finding nutrition with nearly no money.
"The benefit is being cut in draconian ways, and we're hoping to make people aware of how limiting the benefit already is," said Carey Morgan, executive director of the Coalition.
Nationwide, about $14 billion will be taken out of the food-stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). That translates into up to $15 a month being excised from an individual's monthly benefits. The average monthly benefit per person in Pennsylvania is $113. In New Jersey, it's around $133.
[Congressman Bob] Brady said it was "ludicrous" for people to have to eat on $35 a week, adding, "I'll see what I can get for that money. You can buy a lot of rice, but it's not the healthiest thing to eat. It's pretty difficult."
It is extremely hard to live with little money for food. It is commonsense then, that cutting those benefits, and simply stating that poor people should adjust, is a little inhumane. What if adjusting, while still being able to maintain reasonable nutrition, was simply impossible to do?
I go through that, because, in response to the absolutely radical, shock doctrine-esque proposal to destroy the School District of Philadelphia— largely driven by chronic underfunding of our schools, and new Corbett-era cuts— the media and our politicians have, in effect, told the children of this city to suck up the pain, because it is time to live within our means.
A Daily News editorial, for example, stated this:
All of these factors make the current budget unsustainable. This is not exactly news. What is news is that the SRC is finally facing these hard financial facts, and restructuring the district accordingly.
Mayor Nutter said something even more charming, that we need to “grow up and deal with” this.
Along with a lot of people, we are going to get into this plan in a lot more detail over the coming weeks. But, before doing so, and taking this radical monstrosity apart piece by piece, we all must deal with this framing upfront.
As Frank Murphy points out in a must-read piece, we are in a financial crisis caused by 1) a bad economy, 2) a starve the beast Governor Corbett and 3) the recklessness of Arlene Ackerman, for which many politicians, including the Mayor, were complicit.
However, even noting Ackerman and Co's ridiculousness, why are we NOT in this crisis? Because we are simply misspending sufficient funds.
I graduated from high school in 1999. In 1999, the statistic that students and education activists often gave was that the Lower Merion School District spent twice the amount per child, as compared to Philadelphia. Guess what? It is 2012, and Lower Merion, without nearly as many costs from safety, special needs kids, and other issues that arise in poor cities, currently spends... twice the amount per child, as compared to Philadelphia. That was our biggest issue then, and that is our biggest issue now.
The editorial boards, Michael Nutter and Tom Corbett can tell us to live within our means, but what happens if our means are not enough to properly fund education for each child in our city? (This is mostly a rhetorical question: a state commissioned study has already stated that current levels of funding in Philadelphia are not enough to educate our kids.)
So, amid this financial crisis, we have this crazy, sweeping plan from the Mayor, the SRC and Thomas Knudsen, the gas-man-turned-superintendent. Something as radical and sweeping as the Mayor and the gas man’s proposal is so large that it inevitably allows for way too many blurring of lines. But, the media needs to blow this apart and not confuse the issues: The crisis and some of the most radical elements of the ‘solution’—such as the closing of forty schools— are not, in fact related, to our financial crisis, and do not solve that crisis. In fact, our financial crisis is simply being used as a cover for the other, a destruction of the central school district. (The plan is so large, with so many holes, that we will have to examine it piece by piece.)
Again, our schools do not have enough money to function properly. The radical restructuring contained in this plan, which does not close most of the deficit, ignores that ugly truth, and provides zero paths to accomplishing that, other than the bauble of attracting some private funds. (Newsflash: a ten million dollar grant will not solve our problems.)
This is a bankrupt school district, in a poor city, that needs more money if it can be expected to educate our children. Telling any of us to simply deal with this reality and adjust is not much different than telling a hungry child to stretch newly slashed food stamps a little further. At some point, you just have to acknowledge that is impossible to do.