Do you want to know what is wrong with American education? Look no further than Philadelphia. The city public schools have been a plaything for the city’s rich and powerful. The students are mainly black and poor. The schools are underfunded. Charter schools are thriving. Public schools have been closed to make way for privately managed charters. The city schools have not had democratic control of years. It is run by a School Reform Commission appointed by the governor and the mayor. The SRC does not have a clue about how to “reform” the schools.


Consequence: The city’s public schools have eight full-time librarians for 220 schools and 134,000 students. 


As Philadelphia school budgets have shrunk, librarians have grown rarer, almost to the point of extinction. In 1991, the school system employed 176 certified librarians. Now, the librarians are only at Anderson, Elkin, Greenberg, Penn Alexander, Roosevelt, and Sullivan elementaries and Central and South Philadelphia High Schools.


In addition to the librarian-staffed libraries, 13 libraries are kept open by 128 volunteers from the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, according to the district.


What a disgrace for the nation’s fifth largest city!


When I went to the Houston public schools in the 1950s, my public schools had fully staffed libraries. Are we poorer now than then?