February 28, 2014 |
IN YET ANOTHER effort to hoist the beleaguered school district onto stable fiscal ground, City Council is floating a new proposal ahead of what's expected to be a contentious budget season. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez introduced a bill yesterday that funnels a greater percentage of property taxes from the general fund to the schools. About 45 percent of property-tax revenues now go to city coffers, while the remaining 55 percent goes dedicated to the school district. Sanchez's bill would tip the scales so that the city gets 40 percent and the school district 60 percent.
February 24, 2014
Mayor Nutter's plea for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to do more to help city schools was another sad reminder that the system still hasn't closed a funding gap that threatens to create yet another fiscal crisis next year. "Solving the education problem must become a business and economic imperative," Nutter said Tuesday. "If we don't address this problem now, in 10 years, we won't have a competitive workforce, meaning you won't have a qualified pool of workers to fill available positions.
February 11, 2014
LAST WEEK, the School District of Philadelphia confirmed what it feared back in November: It is facing an extra $25 million in unbudgeted costs associated with increased enrollment in charter schools. Charters have enrolled 1,600 more students than allowed by their agreements with the district. As if we needed another example, this situation is a perfect illustration of the lack of a coherent strategy for public education in the state. Although the School Reform Commission authorizes charter schools, the SRC has no authority to impose enrollment caps on schools, which means that they have no control over the costs associated with charters.
January 23, 2014
The state senators who will individually interview Bill Green about his nomination for chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission should be as thorough as if they were questioning him in a formal hearing - which, unfortunately, they won't. A huge flaw in the SRC appointment process is that it offers little or no opportunity for public input after the mayor and governor make their choices. That can reduce the required Senate confirmation to a rubber stamp. But that should not be the Senate's approach to any SRC nomination, and especially not when it comes to Green, whose past statements in favor of charters and vouchers have some in the education establishment questioning his commitment to traditional public schools.
January 22, 2014
Vote on school taxes I recently introduced House Resolution 613, which seeks a nonbinding resolution on the May 20 ballot asking voters whether they would support increasing the state sales, income, and business taxes - or any combination of taxes - to support public education. Gov. Corbett's reported backing of an election-year funding boost for schools reeks of pandering, not passion, for public education. After all, education funding - like transportation infrastructure funding - is a core function of state government, and perhaps even more critical to the commonwealth's future.
January 20, 2014 |
When Bill Green last sought reelection to City Council, in 2011, he was so openly interested in Philadelphia's 2015 mayoral race that it became part of his pitch at ward meetings. Other candidates waiting to speak took to joking about it. "Here's the part where he runs for mayor," one candidate for judge whispered to another as Green was speaking one night in Fairmount. But his interest in that 2015 race has faded in recent months. When Pedro Ramos abruptly resigned in October as chairman of the School Reform Commission, Green began lobbying Gov. Corbett for an appointment to lead the agency.
January 19, 2014 |
Gov. Corbett on Friday remade the School Reform Commission - and possibly the Philadelphia School District - in announcing two new choices for the panel. Corbett will nominate City Councilman Bill Green, a Democrat, and social-services advocate Farah Jimenez, a Republican, to the SRC. If approved by the state Senate, Green would have to resign his Council seat and would become SRC chair. But even as the governor praised the nominees, Mayor Nutter stepped into the fray. He lauded Jimenez, but called Green's selection "quite frankly, perplexing.
January 16, 2014
WE DON'T fully embrace conspiracy theories, like the one about corporations in cahoots to privatize public education, but that's not to say that we're blind as to how budget cuts are systematically dismantling public education, especially in this city. And, given the last six months of the school district's financial woes, we're ready to sign on to a new theory: how lawmakers are conspiring to keep the city's students - many of them low-income and disadvantaged - from getting to college, thereby relegating those students to remain in the margins of the economy for the rest of their lives.
December 14, 2013 |
William Fedullo, the personal injury lawyer who takes over as Philadelphia bar chancellor Jan. 1, has a reputation as a consensus builder who connects with clients and opposing attorneys, a trait that helped him fashion settlements in courtroom disputes where adversaries often are separated by wide differences and heated emotions. It is a quality that he will need if he is to make progress on his goal of having the Philadelphia Bar Association help forge a solution to the city School District's chronic money shortages.
December 11, 2013 |
"Hey hey, ho, Tom Corbett has got to go," about 100 people outside Gov. Corbett's Philadelphia office chanted on a wind-whipped afternoon Monday. The crowd, protesting funding levels for public schools, included the president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Jerry Jordan, and community members, students, and teachers. "It's time to live up to our responsibility to make sure [schools] are funded adequately so students get the education they need," Jordan said. The event was part of what organizers called a national "Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education," which teachers' unions and others were staging in 90 cities across the country.