Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter Takes a Stand for Philadelphia Children/Education: A tale of 3 Mayors & One Yet to Be

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

I've subtitled this "A Tale of Three Mayors an One Yet To Be," because I'm mindful of the fact that New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are contiguous states along the Eastern Seaboard, each with major cities of relevance to Black People - those being New York City, Newark, and Philadelphia, respectively.  

In each instance, there has been a major crisis in public school funding, while charter schools have proliferated; and unfortunately there has recently developed a deficit in funding support for public schools, while charter schools appear to thrive.  Within that context, New York mayor Bloomberg has engineered the closing of nearly 160 public schools throughout the five boroughs, much to the dismay of parents, educators and students alike.  There appears to be little to no regard on his part for the wishes, needs, and concerns of his constituency (I use the term lightly here, because in fact, Bloomberg's constituency really only include the uber rich)

However, in contrast, both Mayor Cory Booker and Mayor Michael Nutter have taken a much more intelligent approach, one that takes into consideration the needs of the students, as well as the wishes and concerns of the constituents, and have taken a stand that sends notice to all that they are determined to work to the benefit of all of their city, not just a privileged few.  In Mayor Booker's case, he was able to obtain matching grant funding from major corporations (including Facebook) to the tune of $400 Million, which not only makes it possible to hire competent educators (not just teachers), but upgrade the equipment, material and supplies - as well as infrastructure - of the current schools. 

Mayor Michael Nutter's stance on saving Philadelphia schools is likewise to be applauded.  I am sharing a press release with you, below, that I received from his office.   It shows that he puts the interests and concerns of his people first.  It would be great if the two mayors (Booker and Nutter) could collaborate on how to also obtain grant funding in order to have to mitigate future loans - but in the interim, Mayor Nutter is not sitting on his hands, or his laurels, and lamenting over budgetary issues.  He's digging in his heels and making it happen so that students will return to school on September 9 to a safe, sane and scholarly environment.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker
New York Mayoral Candidate William "Bill" Thompson (2013)

Kudos to  Cory Booker (who, by the way just won the Democratic nomination to be the first African American US Senator from New Jersey - hope there is a suitable successor to step in and carry Newark forward - Newark, heads up - you need to already have some one in mind (RAS BARAKA) so that you don't end up with a "rep-ugh-blican" mayor - get busy.  To be forewarned is to be fore 

And kudos to Mayor Michael Nutter for standing walking your talk. 

New York City is now faced with a dilemma, hype, subterfuge, divide and conquer in an all too crowded primary to determine who is going to move this city forward.  I think if you look at the last 12 years, it should be obvious that the only person who can and will take this city forward is Bill Thompson.  He's the former New York City comptroller, and has worked intimately in the Board of Education.  He's of and from the community - knows who and what and where we live, and more importantly WHY.  The three greatest cities on the eastern seaboard deserve the best - it's time New York City elected someone who will really put her first, as these other two exemplary mayors, Cory Booker and Michael Nutter, have done consistently.  NYC Voters: Don't miss your opportunity to do something great.

Gloria Dulan-Wilson

The Press Release from Mayor Nutter's Office follows: 

City of Philadelphia


  Philadelphia, August 15, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter, joined by City officials, announced a plan for the City of Philadelphia to borrow $50 million on behalf of the School District to ensure that the schools will open safely and on time for the 2013-14 school year.  Prepared remarks below, check against delivery:

“A week ago, Superintendent William Hite said Philadelphia public schools could not safely open on Sept. 9 without a firm commitment of $50 million so that he can hire back about 1,000 School District employees between now and then.

Today, as Mayor of this great City, I’m here to say I WILL NOT RISK A CATASTROPHE. We WILL avoid this disaster. 
 I am committing to our students, parents and citizens today that schools are going to open on time and safely on Sept. 9th. Children are going to continue their education.

I am not going to let this crisis ruin the start of what is certainly a promising school year, and it’s clear to me that a majority of Council members, even with different ideas now being discussed, want the same one thing – that schools open on time AND safely.

Therefore, I am taking executive action today on behalf on our City to end this current crisis and uncertainty.

There are a number of ways to try to accomplish this goal – a borrowing, a grant, a loan or even the purchase of school buildings or school tax liens – each has its own requirements, complications and challenges.

I’ve evaluated all of the options and their respective impacts on the City’s finances.

As a result of these evaluations, I am today now directing the City Finance Director, the City Treasurer and the Budget Director to begin immediately to take all necessary steps to conduct a City borrowing of $50 million on behalf of the School District. I believe this mechanism is the best way to immediately get these needed dollars to the School District with virtually no financial impact on our City.

If Council approves a sales tax bill consistent with what’s been approved in Harrisburg, or any other legislation, it will give the City access to $15 million a year to repay the borrowing.

If Council fails to act, either the costs of the borrowing will be borne by our City’s General Fund and unfortunately it causes significant deficits for the City, or even worse, deprive our schoolchildren of a sustainable funding source because of a dispute over how best to solve our City pension problems.

Our school children did not create the City pension problem nor are they responsible for the School District’s funding problems. They should not suffer as we try to resolve it. They should not be pawns in a political chess match of leverage and strategy.

The State legislation, while not perfect, does provide $400 million to our Pension Plan over the next 10 years, while also providing $600 million in education funding over the course of the next 5 years. These are significant new funds for education AND pensions.

Second, today, I will have this letter hand delivered to Dr. Hite, informing him of the City’s commitment and asking him to immediately begin the process of hiring back the thousand or so school district employees whose return will ensure that schools open on time and safely.

Third, today, we will also hand deliver to City Council and the Chief Clerk proposed legislation to implement the sales tax extension consistent with what was done in Harrisburg.

This legislation will also include language that if the General Assembly changes the distribution of sales tax revenue to an equal split between the School District and the city pension fund, then that too would be authorized by Council with passage of that particular piece of legislation.

And I agree that the sales tax should be split between the City and School District IF, if the cigarette tax is passed in Harrisburg.

The bottom line is that we need to take action now and make commitments now in order to avoid chaos.

I will continue to work with Council President Clarke and members of City Council to take the necessary steps to support our School District in the short term while we all work with our State Legislators and our Governor on a long-term, stable and recurring financial plan for funding the education of our young people.

And so,  I’m also calling upon all elected officials, school advocates, the business community, our religious communities, our parents and anyone concerned about the City’s future and its economic well-being to work together with cities and towns all across the Commonwealth on developing a new education funding formula that takes into account the student population and their needs and challenges.

Pennsylvania needs to join the other 47 states that use such student-based formulas to fund education.

Let this effort be the cause that unites us all across the Commonwealth. I believe this cause is a significant part of what quality education is all about. And if we’re successful, it’s this kind of long-lasting work of which we can all be proud.

But let me be clear at this moment, my message today is focused on tomorrow’s deadline and on Sept. 9th. We are taking these actions because Philadelphia children and their parents and their hopes for a brighter future are not going to be shattered by indecision, fear or doubt.

As Mayor, it’s my duty to keep Philadelphia on track and moving forward and that’s what I’m doing today.

On Monday morning, Sept. 9, I expect that we’ll all be ringing school bells at schools all across the City with Philadelphia school children, their teachers, administrators and other staff. We’re going to kick off a great year of enrichment and discovery on that day.

To the parents of Philadelphia school children, I have heard you clearly and I understand your concerns, and that’s why I’m taking this action today on behalf of our children.

Young minds are preparing for greatness in our grand and beloved City. We must meet our challenges head-on, that is our path forward. I anticipate that day, and with today’s commitment we’ll have the necessary funding and staff – safe and ready to go on Sept. 9th.

Thank you.”

This is the example of a mayor who cares, takes action, and takes stands.   Just thought you'd like to know, since we are now faced in New York City with electing a new mayor.  This is also a continuous endorsement for Bill Thompson for Mayor of New York City. That is if you want someone who is going to stand for you, who resonates to your concerns and works with you to rectify them.  Who has been in the trenches, gotten out, and blazed a trail in the process so that others can do likewise.  Don't fool yourself that you can do otherwise.  You have to make it your business to vote for your own enlightened self interest - and you have a very short time to wake up and come to this realization.   

Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson


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