March 24, 2003
Creating a better Pennsylvania is no less an urgent task because the country is at war in a faraway land. Here at home, youngsters still dream of what they want to be when they grow up. Unfortunately, low-income children in the commonwealth find it harder to achieve their dreams - thanks, in part, to state governors and legislators from both parties through the years. Pennsylvania is one of only nine states with no state-funded preschool. Forty-one others have heeded studies showing that without an early boost, children from poor families are six to 18 months behind their middle-class peers academically when they enter kindergarten.
February 16, 1992 |
The recent effort to implement a school voucher system in Pennsylvania had its counterpart in Delaware County 158 years ago, when local citizens battled over the very law that led to establishment of statewide public education. The Free School Act of 1834 was drawn up by a state Senate Education Committee headed by George T. Smith of Upper Darby. Smith was a physician as well as president of the Upper Darby school board. Opponents of that act were labeled as anti-public education, as were proponents of the recent one. And like last year's effort, it, too, went down to defeat.
May 19, 1999 |
Everyone will tell you Mayor Richard M. Daley is a practical man, not someone given to grand theory, romantic ideas or crusades. But when he sits down in his City Hall office and starts talking in his clipped, rapid-fire way, he sounds like a romantic when it comes to education. He has a theory about the Democratic Party and has ideas Washington politicians could use to improve the quality of life - a phrase that, of course, never passes his lips. First, the ideas: Make public education work; get the feds to be as eager to build and repair schools as they are to build and repair highways; help parents who worry about what their kids are doing between the time school lets out and the time the workday is done; and control guns.
January 7, 1997 |
Let's stipulate it from the get-go: No, simply throwing money at a problem won't solve it. But, while we're at it, let's mention another truth underlying the court case on Pennsylvania school funding that began trial yesterday: Spending too little money on a problem isn't a good way to fix it, either. Pennsylvania's way of paying for public education doesn't work anymore. The fix will involve more than tinkering with the arcane school-aid formula. It will require the state to resume paying at least half of school costs.
June 14, 1995
Gov. Ridge says he urgently wants to fix a public school system that is failing, statewide, to prepare students adequately for the duties of work and citizenship. But instead of making things better, Gov. Ridge's school-choice plan, embodied in the state budget now being debated in Harrisburg, will widen disparities between rural and urban, black and white, poor and affluent schools. And it's not clear it will do anything for the huge number of moderate- income parents whose first choice would be to send their children to quality public schools in their neighborhoods.
December 16, 1994 |
The day Anita Porter's grandchild, Ahnyay Porter, was born was both a time of joy and fear. An unexpected birth, Ahnyay was born two months' premature in December 1988 to Anita's 19-year-old daughter, Chelese Porter. Seven days and numerous medical tests later, doctors told the Porter family that Ahnyay had Down syndrome. "The doctor said she (Ahnyay) would never walk or talk, and my daughter started crying. Immediately the doctor said, 'If you don't want her, we can institutionalize her,' " Anita Porter said.
August 27, 2004 |
It is troubling to hear state lawmakers tout as "historic" the package of legislation adopted early in July that includes legalization of slot machines, property-tax relief, and a school-budget referendum. Good Schools Pennsylvania was formed in 2001 by people alarmed by the state's declining investment in public education, the corresponding deficit in educational resources available to children in poor communities, and the resulting, disappointing levels in student achievement.
January 21, 2003 |
A group of about 35 student activists honored the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in their own way Sunday night - by sleeping outside in the frigid cold to dramatize their concern about funding in public education. "School funding is the civil rights issue of our time," Philadelphia Student Union president Eric Braxton said. "This is a really crucial time for school funding with the new governor coming. We also feel like this is an important way to celebrate Dr. King. " Outside the State Office Building at Broad and Spring Garden Streets, the students huddled together, brought tents, bundled in several layers of clothing, and lit a fire in a 55-gallon steel drum to stay warm in the sub-freezing temperatures.
May 9, 2000
The road from theory to reality can provide an exciting ride, but it can also be bumpy. And so it is with the charter school experiment in Philadelphia. One bump on the horizon is the tendency for a few players to use charter schools as a proxy battleground between city and state - obscuring charters' actual successes, as well as their shortcomings. Philadelphia has more than half the state's charter schools: 25 of the current 40 schools, with 10 more to open in September.
February 22, 1999 |
Strapped for cash and understaffed, a 119-year-old citizens' education advocacy group plans to close its operation March 5. The Citizens Committee on Public Education in Philadelphia could not muster enough donations to continue operating. "We set a couple of goals for fund-raising and projections over the last couple of months with the clear idea that we'd have to shut our doors if we didn't reach those goals," said Gail Tomlinson, the group's executive director, whose expert opinion is often sought on Philadelphia School District issues and policies.