- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
A New College For Philadelphia
This is a post that's been a long time coming. Here is part of its history.
During the Mayoral primary campaign, YPP hosted a post by a young woman named Renata Neal. Renata grew up in Germantown, and attends West Chester University through the Core Philly Scholarship program. Her mother worked as a volunteer for Chaka Fattah's mayoral campaign, and Renata likewise voiced her support since Fattah had helped create the program.
But one of the questions that came out of that post was why a talented young Philadelphian had to leave the city of Philadelphia to get an affordable education at a public university. Philadelphia has many prestigious and wonderful colleges and universities -- but most of them are private, which makes their tuition steep, especially for first-generation college students who are unwilling to take on debt or who can't easily navigate the scholarship system. Temple, which like Penn State is a public/private commonwealth university, has undergraduate tuition twice that of West Chester. If Renata, who as a young, full-time student had been offered scholarships, had to look elsewhere -- what opportunities were there for nontraditional students, finishing their degrees part-time, or trying to return to school after a long absence?
Mark Cohen noted then that he was working with the state university system to try to bring a new four-year state university to the city of Philadelphia. I've had this in my mind ever since then. And I think it's a wonderful idea -- for college students like Renata, for students nothing like Renata, for our schools, for our neighborhoods, and for our city. What's more, it's a project that in principle all of our elected officials, from city office to Congress, can work to make happen. If you want to know more, read after the jump.
Today the AP reported that enrollment in the Penn State system is at an all-time high. The satellite campuses are expanding, and the freshmen classes are being reduced to keep enrollment within what the system can handle. Enrollment in and applications to Philadelphia's universities, too, are booming. These seem like two trends that naturally fit together.
When Ray asked us all to envision a plan for Philadelphia's economic future, I could only think about the best parts of Philadelphia's economic present, including above all our colleges and universities. More people than ever want to study in Philadelphia. Not only do our universities bring talented young (and not-so-young) people into our city, they're also economic engines for our city and state, generating employment, business opportunities, and billions of dollars in new wealth beyond the campus borders. Universities bring their own town-and-gown problems as well, but ultimately, we want our universities as partners in what we're trying to do to help our city, and for the most part, they've been exactly that.
And when Dan asked us to imagine a legacy for the city's progressive politicians, again, a new university seemed like a perfect place to begin. For the hundreds of thousands of people in our city to have a chance to move beyond generational poverty, and the hopelessness, violence, and social decay that such poverty brings, they're going to need more education. And it behooves us to make that education both as accessible and as good as we possibly can. Our universities are our best showcase for what the government can do to have a positive impact on our nation, our communities, our businesses, and on individual lives. A new urban university, as committed to excellence and innovation as it is to affordability and access. That's a legacy that could make any progressive proud.
At the same time, as our universities shine, our public K-12 schools sputter. If colleges are a spur to our economy and our neighborhoods, the public schools are a drag. But a new public university in Philadelphia could also be a model of how universities can work with a troubled public school system -- through research, teacher education, professional development, assistance in restructuring troubled schools, and in training the next generation of teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers. This is why I've suggested that the centerpiece of any new university in Philadelphia should be an innovative 21st-century teachers' college. We can partner with our existing institutions, public and private, and our leading businesses, including the city's telecommunications giant, to create the university of the future -- a university that can use the ideas and technology of the 21st century to help the men, women, and children left behind by the vicissitudes of the 20th-century economy and in many cases the failures of 20th-century education.
Our politicians, including Michael Nutter, Mark Cohen, Chaka Fattah, Dwight Evans, Bob Brady, Ed Rendell, and others, have shown that they care about our city and its students. I think this is the time, with a Democratic governor and state house, and a Congressional majority, to try to make this happen.
There are plenty of things to discuss. What can we do to support our existing institutions? If there is a new institution, what should it look like? What would be the benefits and potential pitfalls for the city? And what we can do to make this happen?