Pennsylvania: Phila. School Budget Cuts Eat Into College Admissions

"Christine Donnelly used to knock on students' doors when they stopped showing up at school. The counselor at Academy at Palumbo, a South Philadelphia magnet school, sat with seniors to make sure they were choosing colleges that were a good fit. She helped them puzzle through financial-aid forms," The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"Philadelphia School District budget cuts made those things often impossible this last school year. And, for the first time in recent memory, 10 Palumbo students failed to graduate, Donnelly said. And fewer planned to go to four-year colleges.

In urban public schools, there are always cracks to slip through, but this year, 'the cracks became craters,' Donnelly said.

District-level data are not yet available, but some counselors, in interviews, said they had seen evidence of collateral damage of the worst financial crisis the school system has ever had: a drop-off in college-going rates. Students stumbling through the financial-aid process, choosing schools that might not be the best for them, disappearing from school altogether.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. is not surprised by the counselors' observations.

'We can do so much better for our children than our current budget allows,' Hite said in a statement. 'A student's potential should not be limited by our society's inability to fully fund the basic resources that are commonly found in other schools throughout the region.'"

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