By Joseph Batory
The lack of proper funding for Philadelphia’s public schools is a moral outrage resulting from political incompetence.
There is no greater villain in this travesty that the senseless Republican dominated legislature in Harrisburg which for many years has overseen the decline in the State’s funding for public education from a 50% share to about a 35% share statewide. The State continues to operate without a formula for public education funding which annually puts school districts across the Commonwealth at the political whims of politicians. And these elected officials have clearly abdicated their Constitutional responsibility to provide a “thorough and efficient” education for all of the State’s children.
The ousting of the dictator governor Tom Corbett by voters sent a clear signal that some basic fairness and humanitarian concern for the neediest school children in the State was needed. But the Republican-dominated State legislature has blocked all of the efforts of new Governor Tom Wolf to produce positive change for public education in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania goes on as Number One! Congratulations to the Harrisburg majority…the latest research shows that the gap between what rich and poor school systems spend for their students all across Pennsylvania is the largest in the nation.
Here in Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission, another State debacle, was supposedly established to bring fiscal solvency to the School District of Philadelphia. Yet years of School Reform Commission oversight has done the opposite with schools and students in Philadelphia perpetually struggling to survive financially. Incredibly, somehow this “Titanic” School Reform Commission keeps on going.
As another city debacle, in the midst of so many city public schools without proper resources, without guidance counselors and without nurses and libraries, without programs of music and art, without qualified teachers in all classrooms, recent Mayor Michael Nutter committed one million dollars of city money for an International Bicycle race in the city? Apparently he had never heard of corporate sponsors?
Worse yet, despite Mayor Nutter’s assurances that the World Meeting of Families would pay all costs for the Papal visit, we have now been informed by the city’s budget director that Philadelphia taxpayers will have to cover about $8 million of the $17 million of costs for this event.
This financial prioritizing by the mayor, given the city’s needs, made no sense.
Mayor Nutter might well have been obsessed with creating his legacy that he brought “big time” events to the city. But his true legacy might be little more than “glitzy events” at the expense of the true needs of Philadelphia school children.