No Cig Tax, But State Leaders Promise School Support

Another day on the brink for Philly schools: Activists and officials headed to Harrisburg on Monday — the day the Pennsylvania House was supposed to approve a cigarette tax to fund city schools — to rally and lobby state officials for the funding authority.

They didn’t get what they were looking for.

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3 Great Moments in PC Hysteria

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It’s been a busy week here in the P.C. States of America, with everybody defending everybody else’s right to be offended, with the usual head-spinning results. Let’s start at Ohio State University, which just fired the director of its world-renowned marching band for allowing hazing and sexual harassment to go on amidst its ranks. (You may have seen the band’s halftime tribute to Michael Jackson on YouTube last year.) One practice decried in a university report was the assignment of nicknames to new band members — nicknames that the university deemed degrading, such as “Jizzy” and “Twinkle Dick,” according to the august Chronicle of Higher Ed. Among the objectionable monikers the report cited was “Jwoobs,” given to a female Jewish student with large breasts. Read more »

How Philly Families Will Pay for Harrisburg’s Sins

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Here’s something I’m not sure members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have considered as they goof around on vacation and play games with the future of Philly schools: They’re about to hurt a lot of families in very tangible ways.

The equation goes like this:

• The House’s decision to stay on vacation next week instead of coming back to Harrisburg for a vote on a cigarette tax proposal makes it increasingly likely that Philly schools won’t start on time.

• If schools don’t open on time, tens of thousands of schoolchildren are going to need something to do.

•  Parents of many of those kids will pay to put their children in child care for the duration. But child care isn’t cheap — it can cost upward of hundreds of dollars a week, and thousands of dollars a month, to keep kids somewhere safe and occupied. This is no small concern.

• So there’s that huge expense for families that didn’t expect to bear it. But it’s also true that many of those tens of thousands of family can’t afford the daycare, or can barely afford it. Those that can’t might rely on families … or they’ll make unorthodox arrangements that please no one.

Which is to say nothing of the thousands of teachers, administrators, and classified staffers who will sit home without getting paid. Or the impact on the education of every student stuck in limbo. Philly is about to pay a terrible price.

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Ori vs. Kenyatta: Gloves Off

MO-metro-ori-kenyatta-illo-400x443Though Philadelphia’s primary election is many months away (May 19th — mark your calendars!), the battle between incumbent one-term City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and his challenger, controversial Point Breeze real estate developer Ori Feibush, is already about to reach a boiling point.

Just before the Fourth of July holiday, with City Council members about to go on their annual three-month must-be-nice what-is-this-Denmark? summer break, Feibush filed a federal lawsuit against Johnson, alleging that the Councilman blocked him from purchasing two blighted city-owned properties and from bidding on a large parcel of land, as retribution for Feibush’s campaign for his seat.

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