Students, parents and teachers in Philadelphia are facing the meltdown of the public school system due to lack of funding. The town is in the Eastern United States and has the highest poverty rate at 28% of the ten largest towns in the country. Its education system has been taken over by the state of Pennsylvania which seems hell-bent on destroying it and turning the city over to privately run charters according to many reports on the internet.

The situation in the city's public schools is so perilous that there was a question mark over their opening at all at the beginning of the new school year in September. However now, after a small cash injection, they will open but without many such important personnel as counsellors, librarians and lunch-time supervisors and with their teachers facing pay cuts at best and redundancy at worst. One school has even asked parents to contribute $613 per student to help pay for basic necessities.

In fact the state of Pennsylvania is rich and could afford to fund the public schools properly – instead it finds adequate funds to build new prisons while concentrating education policy on privatisation and dismantling public schools, particularly through the siphoning off of $675 million from public to private charter school provision.

Teachers struggling for proper funding for education in Philadelphia are receiving support from both parents and students. Parents organised in the group Parents United for Public Education said in a statement: “It is wrong to open buildings in September with such a dangerously low standard. Parents must see that our schools are safe and adequately staffed and funded. It is not enough to have the money to open buildings. We want funding to educate our children in the way in which they deserve.”

Meanwhile members of the Philadelphia Students Union (PSU) have been going door to door explaining to parents about the budget crisis and enlisting their support. One campaigner, Sharron Snyder said that she would like to tell Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett:  "We need the money because we know you have it and you're giving it to things like prisons. We know you have it. Stop lying." PSU are considering a boycott of schools if the state does not provide adequate funding.

Editor's note: In an excellent article about the crisis in Philadelphia's schools on the website www.salon.com, the author says: “Particularly noxious lawmakers are fond of spouting the ridiculous notion that money can’t help struggling schools, as if more and better-trained staff, better equipment and diverse programming wouldn’t make a difference in kids’ educations and their lives.” It's an argument that this website is sick of hearing about public schools in the Global South, which receive even worse funding than those in Philadelphia, yet where teachers are blamed by, in particular, the World Bank for the failure to deliver education for all. The struggle for properly funded public schooling is a global struggle and demands global solidarity.