Two Stats That Show Harrisburg Is Stacking the Deck Against Philly Schools

Dear Sen. Jake Corman:

I’ve been thinking about you lately. Admittedly, I wasn’t too thrilled to see you displace local favorite Dom Pileggi as the majority leader in the Pennsylvania Senate. But you’ve been on my mind ever since you did an interview with NewsWorks and said something kind of nice about Philadelphia.

“As a Republican, we’ve made a living over the years picking on Philadelphia. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” you said. “But we’re as successful as they are. If Philadelphia is a tremendous, thriving city full of opportunity and cultural advances that communities from around the state and around the country want to come see, that’s good for everybody in the state.”

It was so surprising to hear a Pennsylvania legislator say something nice about Philly that I made a big joke of it here at Phillymag.com. But as the legislative year has gotten under way, it’s occurred to me that you might mean what you say — and that you might just be the man to help lead Pennsylvania Republicans down the path of helping the Philadelphia school district finally succeed and thrive — provided you understand exactly the problem that ails it.

And the problem is the poverty. Read more »

PA’s Wealthy School Districts Get Way More Local Cash Than Poor Ones

School District of Philadelphia

School districts across Pennsylvania have felt the impact of state budget cuts and the expiration of federal stimulus dollars over the past few years.

But the money woes of the high-poverty Philadelphia School District have been so extreme that they’ve garnered national attention: Some city schools lack such basics as full-time guidance counselors and nurses.

A new analysis shows that, despite the fact that low-income students come to class with greater needs than their better-off peers, Pennsylvania and its municipalities actually spend less per pupil in the poorest districts than in the richest ones. Way less, actually. According to the Washington Post, “In Pennsylvania, per-pupil spending in the poorest school districts is 33 percent lower than per-pupil spending in the wealthiest school districts.”

Read more »

Diaz: Replace SRC With Parent-Led Board

Nelson Diaz at his campaign launch. | Photo from Diaz's Facebook page.

Nelson Diaz at his campaign launch. | Photo from Diaz’s Facebook page.

Mayoral candidate Nelson Diaz is proposing to scrap the School Reform Commission and replace it with a parent-led school board to make major decisions for the Philadelphia school district.

Diaz pitched the idea at a meeting of Pennsylvania House Democrats Monday at Warren G. Harding Middle School, NewsWorks reports. Read more »

Green Won’t Challenge Wolf’s SRC Decision

Bill Green, last week at district headquarters after Gov. Wolf removed him from SRC chairmanship.

Bill Green, last week at district headquarters after Gov. Wolf removed him from the SRC chairmanship.

Bill Green said this afternoon he will not mount a legal challenge to Gov. Wolf’s dismissal of him as chair of the School Reform Commission, saying he did not want to undermine support for the Philadelphia School District. But he said he still believes Wolf overstepped his authority in removing him from the chair and replacing him with fellow SRC member Marjorie Neff.

“Lawsuits can wait,” Green said in a press release. “Harmony needs to prevail.” Read more »

5 Things Michael Nutter Wants You to Know About His Property Tax Hike

Matt Rourke | AP

Matt Rourke | AP

Mayor Michael Nutter proposed a budget Thursday that would total $3.95 billion, expand the use of police body cameras, most likely eliminate the need for a tuition hike next year at the Community College of Philadelphia, and increase spending on the city’s long-underfunded Licenses & Inspections department.

But all eyes went to only one part of his plan: a 9.3 percent increase in property taxes. Nutter wants to use that to give $105 million to the city’s cash-strapped schools.

Read more »

Mayoral Candidate Williams Unveils a Plan to Fund Philly Schools

State Sen. Anthony Williams | Photo Credit: Holly Otterbein

State Sen. Anthony Williams | Photo Credit: Holly Otterbein

When state Sen. Anthony Williams released his first policy paper on education last month, we didn’t mince words: We called it “half-baked.” There wasn’t a word in the mayoral candidate’s proposal about how much money the city should provide to the local school district.

On Wednesday, Williams unveiled a more detailed budget plan at his campaign headquarters in Center City.

Read more »

3 Ways William Hite’s Action Plan 3.0 Could Revitalize Philadelphia Schools

Supt. William Hite spoke to reporters, unveiling "Action Plan 3.0."

Superintendent  William Hite spoke to reporters while unveiling “Action Plan 3.0.”

After two years spent slashing programs, closing schools, and laying off thousands of workers, Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite on Wednesday declared a victory of sorts.

The work of stabilizing the district is largely complete, he told reporters during a morning press conference — Philadelphia schools will end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. Now it’s time to turn to the work of actually improving schools and rebuilding public education in the city. Read more »

Wolf Dumps Green as SRC Chair

Bill_Green_2010-jeff-meade-940x540

[Updated with comments from Marjorie Neff]

Gov. Tom Wolf has announced he will replace School Reform Commission chairman Bill Green with Marjorie Neff, a fellow SRC member. The decision came a week after the Green-led SRC approved five new charter schools for the district, with Neff as the lone “no” vote.

Green announced Wolf’s action in a Sunday-night press release, followed an hour later by the official announcement from Wolf’s team. Green said he does not believe that Wolf has the legal authority to remove him as chair, and said he would seek a ruling from Commonwealth Court to resolve the matter.

“The School District of Philadelphia is in dire financial straits, and our children are being put at a disadvantage as a result of misguided cuts and poor decisions,” Wolf said in a written statement. “The district was forced to make major cutbacks in transportation, security, and janitorial services just to open on time last year. We must make new investments in education and provide a fresh path forward for Philadelphia’s schools.” Read more »

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