The public schools of Philadelphia are being slowly, surely strangled by Governor Tom Corbett and the Legislature of Pennsylvania.

Or, maybe, not so slowly.

The state has a constitutional responsibility to maintain a public school system in every district but the state leaders don’t believe in what the state constitution says.

Let it not be forgotten that the state has been in charge of the public schools of Philadelphia since 2001. Along the way, Paul Vallas was superintendent and tried the nation’s most sweeping privatization plan; it failed.

And now the governor has decided to let the district die.

Aaron Kase, writing in Salon, asks:

Want to see a public school system in its death throes? Look no further than Philadelphia. There, the school district is facing end times, with teachers, parents and students staring into the abyss created by a state intent on destroying public education.

On Thursday the city of Philadelphia announced that it would be borrowing $50 million to give the district, just so it can open schools as planned on Sept. 9, after Superintendent William Hite threatened to keep the doors closed without a cash infusion. The schools may open without counselors, administrative staff, noon aids, nurses, librarians or even pens and paper, but hey, kids will have a place to go and sit.

The $50 million fix is just the latest band-aid for a district that is beginning to resemble a rotting bike tube, covered in old patches applied to keep it functioning just a little while longer. At some point, the entire system fails.

Things have gotten so bad that at least one school has asked parents to chip in $613 per student just so they can open with adequate services, which, if it becomes the norm, effectively defeats the purpose of equitable public education, and is entirely unreasonable to expect from the city’s poorer neighborhoods.

The needs of children are secondary, however, to a right-wing governor in Tom Corbett who remains fixated on breaking the district in order to crush the teachers union and divert money to unproven experiments like vouchers and privately run charters. If the city’s children are left uneducated and impoverished among the smoldering wreckage of a broken school system, so be it.

To be clear, the schools are in crisis because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania refuses to fund them adequately. The state Constitution mandates that the Legislature “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education,” but that language appears to be considered some kind of sick joke at the state capital in Harrisburg.

What is happening is outrageous.

Where is President Obama? Why hasn’t he spoken out?

Where is Secretary Arne Duncan?

Why is the federal government standing by in silence as the children of one of the nation’s premier cities are deprived of the education they need?

Oh, wait, they will get the Common Core!