Philadelphia School Problems tied to State Lack of Support - MAKE SURE YOU VOTE NOVEMBER 4 TO END THIS INSANITY

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:I received a press release from the office of Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, recently, that  makes it oh so clear as to where the woes and foes of progressive education and funding came from - significant, consistent, ongoing, pernicious decline in state support.

I.e. Something's rotten in Harrisburg.   It's so egregious that the City, under Mayor Nutter's direction, has had to come with ways to stem the tide of the continual slide of support from Corbett's regime.

Germantown H S, closed in 2013 -A group of concerned citizens are now trying to transform it into a Charter School and Community Business District

The closing of 30 schools throughout the Philadelphia school districts because of lack of sufficient funding has done more to hurt than to help the schools, communities, students.  Germantown High School, the only high school in the Germantown community was closed, causing students to be bused across the city to other already over crowed schools, and leaving a gaping hole in the fabric of a nearly 400 year old historic district.  Actually, when you consider it, Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy, is an historic district in and of itself in its entirety, and should be given better treatment and more respect that it's been receiving under the current state adminstration.

Theoretically, the recently passed cigarette tax at $2.00 per pack, may provide some relief, as will the latest decision by the School Board to ask teachers and administrators to pitch in and contribute to paying their own health insurance, but by and large - with the state contribution in the negative, there are still major gaps that have yet to be closed.

While it does not state so in his press release, I'm going out on a limb and saying this to all Philadelphians and all Pennsylvanians - you had better make it your business to make sure that Corbett is not re-elected as governor of this state - because it will not only get worse, it may well spell the end of some very important institutions and quality of living across the board.  You have the opportunity to elect democratic candidate Tom Wolf, who will be a welcome change - make sure you don't blow it by sitting it out.  If you do, you've no one but yourselves to blame.


Whether or not you have a child in school - regardless of whether it's private, charter, public, parochial - you are being short changed.  In fact, in a statement during his speech at the 50th Anniversary of OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center), Mayor Nutter said:  "The manner

in which Philadelphia schools are being treated is unconscionable."  Education is the key to everything.  Philadelphia is a world class city being treated like second class citizens at the hands of the State legislators.  There is a lot of pontification, followed by dog and pony shows.  But at the end of the day, a lot of sound and fury with no concrete action. 

WAKE UP PHILADELPHIA! WAKE UP PENNSYLVANIA!  You've got less than a month before the November 4th elections - and you have to use that time getting your people into play to make sure that you do not look up on November 5th with the same people in place who have done nothing for you but give you a hard way to go.  This is your wake up call.  The future of your children, you jobs, your communities, your neighborhoods are at stake.  The great part about it is that  you have the power to change it - but will you.  

THE PRESS RELEASE FROM MAYOR NUTTER FOLLOWS - Paragraph 6 is the beginning of the information on the funding crisis and lack of state support for Philadelphia Schools.  And while it may be happening in other areas, as Mayor Nutter has stated, it should not be happening in the 5th largest City in the US.:

City of Philadelphia
                                                                                                                        Michael A. Nutter, Mayor
                                                                                                                        Mark McDonald, Press Secretary
                                                                                                                        Office: 215-686-6210
                                                                                                                        Cell: 267-303-9248                            
Tuesday, October 7, 2014                                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Comments on the School Reform Commission’s actions and the launch of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding

Philadelphia, October 7, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter released the following statement on public education funding in response to events that occurred on Monday.  The statement is as follows, please check against delivery (attached is a document outlining state and local funding to the School District of Philadelphia):

“Today, I want to address two significant events that occurred yesterday and that will impact public education in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

First, in Harrisburg on Monday, a coalition of more than 40 organizations kicked off the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, an effort to ensure that every student has access to a quality education – no matter where they live in Pennsylvania.

Second, the School Reform Commission voted unanimously Monday morning to require PFT members to contribute to their healthcare benefits so that the School District can provide more money to schools and classrooms.

On the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, I am honored to be aligned with this diverse group of organizations that aim to work with parents and community members throughout the state to send a message to state legislators that fair funding for all public schools must be their top priority this year.  The launch of this campaign coincides with the on-going work of the Basic Education Funding Commission and the widespread recognition that more and more school districts across Pennsylvania are facing grim financial circumstances.

I’d like thank our Philadelphia delegation and other elected city and state officials for the “stopgap” measures they have approved to address some of the financial challenges facing our Philadelphia public schools. The legislature’s recent passage of the $2-per-pack cigarette tax and the extension of our city’s sales tax will reduce some of the District’s fiscal instability.  However, these measures are not sufficient to ensure that all Philadelphia students achieve at high levels and are ready for college or work, nor will they bring long-term fiscal stability to the District. In short, Philadelphia students are without the funds they need to succeed.

But here in Philadelphia, we’ve stepped up to the challenges of the school funding crisis over the last six years, as this document shows [see attachment]. We have increased the local annual contribution to our public schools, both district and charter managed, by $357 million over that period – by far the largest increase in the local contribution in the last 30 years. And City taxpayers now pay a higher percent of District costs than they have at any time in that same period.

These new dollars come from property tax increases, a use and occupancy tax increase, parking fee increases, the sales tax, the new cigarette tax and improved delinquent tax collections.  Local taxpayers have done their part.

The School District has also done its part by cutting 5,000 positions, closing 32 school buildings and renegotiating contracts with the blue-collar union and the principals union. These changes have impacted thousands of students and district employees, resulting in deep salary cuts and new contributions to health care premiums for the latter. 

The school funding crisis has affected nearly everyone in this city. We are trapped in an on-going, seemingly never-ending battle to make it through a school year – to even OPEN our schools. Yesterday, we saw the latest dire manifestation of the public school funding crisis.  The SRC did one of the few things left for it to do in order to get desperately needed services back into our schools. They asked their teachers and counselors and others in PFT to contribute to their healthcare.

As I’ve already said, principals and janitors alike have taken pay cuts over the last two years. They have already agreed to similar health care benefit changes. I support this and hope others can see it for what it is – another consequence of this horrible situation our schools have had to face year after year. I am pleased that Dr. Hite has chosen to reinvest these savings in schools and that our schools will have a say in determining how this reinvestment will be used in their buildings.  I have been in many schools and know what students are doing without and I also know what teachers are doing without.  I see how hard working they are.  They are the backbone of the system.  And in some small way, this reinvestment will make it better for students and teachers in schools ever day.

One striking example of the struggles of schools in Philadelphia: Principal Linda Carroll of Northeast High School, for instance, has a total operations budget for her 3,000 students of $15,000. That comes out to $5 a student for the basic school supplies required for a rudimentary education during the school year.

Another example: Last spring I went on a school listening tour. I visited George Washington High School in the far Northeast. I learned that there was one counselor for a school of more than 650 students. That is inexcusable. By requiring teachers to contribute to healthcare costs, additional resources, like counselors, can be added back into the classroom to prevent the educational calamity Philadelphia public school students face on a daily basis.

And I hope that both the School District and the PFT will get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible, so that they can resolve the issues that stand between them.

Yesterday, at the launch of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding in Harrisburg, I heard again from other districts from across the Commonwealth.  The list of cuts and hardships in rural, urban and suburban districts is chilling now and for the future.

Philadelphia is not the only District in this situation.  This isn’t just a Philadelphia problem.  This is a state-wide problem that demands a state-wide solution.  So, I will say it again, and end with this: The way forward for all schools in Pennsylvania is a fair and full funding formula for the state’s basic education funding. And that is what we all should be focusing our efforts on in the days ahead.”

 Jolene Nieves, M.S.
Office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter
215-686-6210 (office)
215-300-1071 (mobile)

While Mayor Nutter can't say this, I can:  PHILLY IS BEING SHORTCHANGED, BIG TIME.  And it's basically through Mayor Nutter's efforts and steadfast attention to details that things aren't much more dire than they already are.  You have a republycon regime superimposed over a democratic city - and the net result is the lack of support for the things that are essential to being the 5th largest city in the US, with one of the largest population of African Americans in an urban setting - 68%.   It's time to take a stand and get your act together Philadelphia.

I continuously hear people saying that the buildings and schools and other improvements are not being built for Black Philadelphians - well, that could end up being the case if you continue to make it a self fulfilling prophecy.  But if you actively become involved in the direction and destiny of your own city; if you show the unity and concern that it takes to make it happen, the improvements will be broadbased and wide spread, benefiting all who live here. 

I tried to include the adobe chart that details the ongoing decline of state funding for your children in your schools in your community - but it's not really necessary to have a graphic depiction on paper - just take the time to go visit the schools; take time to meet the teachers, talk with them; check in on what's happening with your children.  That's the best graphic of them all.  And for those of you who have 18 year olds in the home, whether or not they're planning to attend college, or go into a trade, their education is in jeopardy as the result of the lack of funding from Harrisburg.  As a parent, you should be furious and knocking down the doors there and in the local community.  Demand action - but more than that, take your 18 year old to the polls on Tuesday NOVEMBER 4, 2014 AND VOTE - time to take out the trash Philadelphia - nuff said!

Stay Blessed & 
Gloria Dulan-Wilson 

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