Philadelphia Schools

Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday

D.A. Seth Williams stops by Philly For Change Meetup Wednesday night to talk about guns in the wake of recent violence. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has renewed the focus, at both the local and national level, to find solutions to gun violence.

Philly progressives are invited to meet the D.A. and join the discussion.

Also on the bill is Action United's Jasmine Rivera, who will tackle another hot topic in the new year: the proposed closure of 37 public schools in the city. Jasmine's helping lead the organizing to stop it. Come out and discover what's going on and what you can do.

Philly For Change January Meetup starts at 7pm on Wednesday the 9th at Tattooed Mom, 530 South Street, in the private room on the 2nd floor. T-Mom features Wednesday drink specials and $3 burgers and veggie burgers. Come out, meet local progressives, get involved, and have a great time doing it!

Jump into 2013's hottest progressive issues Wednesday night!

City Schools Underfunded by the Small Amount of.... A Billion Dollars

Wow:

Pennsylvania is underfunding public education by $4.8 billion and it will take a 28 percent spending increase to remedy the problem, according to a study on school funding commissioned by the Pennsylvania legislature and released yesterday.

The state's poorest districts were the most underfunded, the study found.

If the legislature goes along with the recommendations, the state's share of education funding would increase from 37 percent to 60 percent. The average per-student spending would increase $2,545, to $12,057. And almost all districts - 474 of 501 - would get extra money.

Philadelphia would get $1 billion more. Many other area districts also would see big hikes: Delaware County's Upper Darby would get about $52.7 million and Central Bucks would get $42 million, for example.

One billion dollars a year! Think about that number for a second, and then ask yourself if there is any wonder that, given all of the other contributing factors (like, poverty, for example), Philly schools are not performing. One billion dollars!

So, you get a report detailing how shamefully underfunded our schools are, and of course, the most prominent Philadelphia Rep. is outraged and demands more money, right? Well, sort of:

State House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans, D-Phila., said accountability measures have to accompany any new school money.

Obviously, I'm not against making more investment, but there has to be accountability," he said.

Now, lets ignore for a second the irony of Dwight, who has demanded underperforming private education companies keep their contracts, now demanding accountability on schools. (And seriously, with this and his opinion that the problems with the Parking Authority are a 'public relations problem,' Dwight has really not inspired remorse that he didn't win in May.)

But, a state report comes out saying schools in your city are stunningly underfunded, and your response is that? Yikes.

And, of course, State Republicans demanded more money, too:

We will review it and look for ways to implement recommendations, but to get to a $4.6 billion increase in school funding would take a 48 percent increase in the sales tax, or a 47 percent increase in the personal income tax. I don't think the public or the General Assembly is willing to take a step like that," said Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican.

I think Pileggi is right. If you called up someone and said, I will increase your taxes 47 percent to fund schools, OK?, they will probably say no thanks. However, please note that in reality, what we would be talking about would be the PA tax rate going from a whopping 3.07 percent, to about 4.5 percent. A 1.4 percent increase to fully fund schools. I bet if you asked people how they felt about that- Would you be willing to raise the PA Income Tax rate 1.4 percentage points to raise the 4.8 billion dollars needed to fully fund PA schools?, the answer would be a lot different.

1 billion dollars... Roll that number around for a while...

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