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About those pencil donations....

Philly's schools need more than donated erasers.

If you can, please give -- it's certainly a worthy cause. BUT (there's always a but)....well, my friend Sandy Shea, the Daily News editorial page editor, said this much better than I would have.

And yet, a small part of us thinks how pathetic it is that the city's public-school system has reached this point: With funding so scarce, the great public promise to educate our children equitably has fallen to such substandard levels that it must rely on donations. This is not for extras, like fancy instruments or art supplies, but for the basics, like paper, pencils and books, without which education can't happen. State funding cuts are the biggest culprit.

We are always in favor of citizens being engaged in their communities, and we think there is room for lots more. We agree with Todd Bernstein of Global Citizen that the drive for donated school supplies is a way for ordinary citizens to make a difference.

But there is already a complex system set up that is supposed to direct citizen support to schools. It's called taxes.

Conservative lawmakers are bent on providing an illusion of low taxation, but it is only an illusion, because slashing taxes has real consequences, creating needs in new shapes and sizes. For example, starving education funding is a surefire way to ensure the population of the poor continues to grow - and demand more and more public dollars to cope with that problem.

Did I also mention that...Our Schools Are Not For Sale: