I've heard complaints about various public school districts over the years, but I've seen few that match up to the deplorable situation in Reading, Pennsylvania.
It's so bad there, in fact, that I actually cried during one of the interviews. I'm betting you'll tear up, too. Click through to see our report.
See what I mean?
Since this is Behind the Vote, I'm going to get personal with you. My kids' public school is amazing, and so it has been easy for me to read about budget woes in other school districts and to tell myself that those districts really needed to figure it out on their own.
I thought, naively, that it couldn't possibly be as bad as they said it was in the newspapers and on television...
I was wrong.
The Reading School District just cut more than 200 employees from its payroll, mostly teachers and teachers' aides. At least some of Reading's school buildings are in deplorable condition - I would be livid if my children had to go to school in the building we featured in our story. The pre-K program is now gone. And as a result of the layoffs, the number of kids per class is larger- I heard one estimate of up to FORTY children per class.
Having talked to furloughed teachers in Reading and having seen video of school building conditions, I think it's safe to say that we have a problem. No child in our public school system should be facing these conditions. And Reading is far from alone- Do a news search for "school budget cuts" and you'll read about school districts across the country that are facing similar budget woes and cutting everything from arts and P.E. programs to kindergarten.
Something is wrong here.
The question is- How do we fix it?