Philadelphia’s traditional public schools are in a death spiral. While public school children are warehoused in schools with no nurses or guidance counselors, school leaders and City Council are throwing shade on each other over who’s to blame for the financial crisis.
At a news conference, Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite Jr. threw down the gauntlet:
Let’s stop acting like these are other people’s children. They are our children. Today we’re asking City Council to save the children of Philadelphia from significant budget cuts.
City Council President Darrell Clarke posted his response on Facebook:
For the fourth consecutive year, City Council has voted to increase funding for the School District of Philadelphia. But instead of talking about how best to utilize new revenues to improve education outcomes, the District is dealing with a current-year budget deficit of its own making. Last fall, City Council authorized an additional $50 million at the request of Superintendent Hite. The School District then proceeded to leave that $50 million on the table.
Considering City Council is the only funding authority that has consistently increased revenues for the state-controlled School District of Philadelphia over the last four years, this disrespect toward City taxpayers is disturbing and unfair. While other large cities are enhancing services and infrastructure following the Great Recession, the City of Philadelphia remains in perpetual recession thanks to the School District’s ongoing fiscal challenges. Instead of improving core City functions like public safety, we are looking for more ways to squeeze money from our residents to send to a School District that feels it is not accountable to us.
Clarke doth protest too much.
Clarke has said nothing about the School District leaving $17 million on the table. He shows disrespect for Philadelphia taxpayers who deserve to know why the asking price for William Penn High School is less than half its market value.
In fact, leaders of the William Penn Development Coalition (WPDC) were told the School District is under “political pressure” from City Council to accelerate the sale of William Penn.
WPDC President Inez Henderson-Purnell wrote on Save William Penn High School’s Facebook page:
At a June 12th meeting with the School District of Philadelphia, WPDC was suddenly informed that the sales process has been accelerated “only” in the case of William Penn High School stating “political pressure” by City Council as the reason behind the accelerated process. WPDC aims to communicate to the public the unacceptable shift in process as well as the community’s protest of the William Penn High School being developed without community participation or consideration to the future of our beloved neighborhood, history or future.
Clarke has refused to meet with WPDC, which is comprised of Yorktown homeowners and other stakeholders who would be directly impacted by the development of the William Penn campus. Yorktown is in Clarke’s district. They are his constituents.
In this pay to play city, elected officials are playing their constituents for fools. As blues legend Bobby “Blue” Bland would say, I “pity the fool” who thinks they will not be held accountable when they come seeking votes in 2015 and beyond.