Education Report Card Time for Corbett and Wolf

For this election year we have been asking people to vote for candidates based on their willingness to support the five points highlighted below. With the election scheduled for next Tuesday we have a report card on the two gubernatorial candidates based on how they stack up.

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1-Support a funding formula that will distribute state dollars based on student needs and the local district’s ability to pay.

Tom Corbett waited until his last year in office to introduce legislation creating a commission to study the need for a fair funding formula which he now says he supports.  However in his first year Corbett dismantled the progressive funding formula adopted during the Rendell administration in favor of distributing funds to politcally favored districts.   Corbett’s budget cuts hit poor districts the hardest.   Philadelphia state aid per student was cut by 21% while affluent Radnor saw a 7% cut.   GRADE: FAIL

Tom Wolf has a detailed and comprehensive plan to create a fair funding formula.   He would increase the state’s share of education costs, currently one of the lowest in country at 35%, to %50.   He would implement an equitable distribution formula that would allocate funds based on student demographics, rates of poverty and local tax effort.  GRADE: PASS

2. Provide more revenue for education and human services by closing corporate tax loopholes, taxing natural gas production and cancelling prison expansion.

Tom Corbett opposes an extraction tax on Marcellus shale, has showered big business with tax breaks and initiated an expensive prison contruction plan.   He opposed accepting federal dollars for Medicaid expansion.   He favors regressive taxes on working people and strong arming unions to make concessions as the way to fund Philadelphia schools. GRADE: FAIL

Tom Wolf favors taxing shale, rolling back corporate loopholes, and a progressive tax on upper income residents.  GRADE: PASS

3. Hold charter schools accountable and give local districts the power to monitor them.

Tom Corbett has been an advocate of school privatization and charter school expansion.  He supports legislation to take away the power of local districts to regulate charters.  He opposes reforms that would strengthen transparency and make funding more equitable.  His elimination of the charter school reimbursement line item in the budget is bleeding funding for traditional public schools in cities like Philadelphia.

Corbett also expanded the Education Improvement Tax Credit which gives corporations credits for giving money to scholarship funds, a backhanded way of providing public dollars for private schools.  GRADE: FAIL

Tom Wolf has drawn attention to the fact that charters overall do not outperform public schools and that lack of regulation has produced wide spread corruption and abuse.   He calls for increased regulation, supports locating the authorizing of and monitoring of charters in local Districts, and calls for reforming the way charters are funded including the return of excess dollars to the districts.

He also calls for a more transparent and level playing field with annual audits, restrictions on how charters spend public funds, and a uniform application process to prevent cherry picking of students.   GRADE: PASS

4) Shutdown the school to prison pipeline. Replace harsh, zero tolerance polices that criminalize students for minor offenses with restorative justice.

Punitive drug laws and harsh sentencing policies that disproportionately penalize young people of color is a point of difference with the candidates.   Governor Corbett opposes any “loosening of restrictions on illegal drugs.”   While even some Republicans are beginning to question the wisdom of spending on prison expansion and mass incarceration, Governor Corbett remains a supporter.  GRADE: FAIL

Tom Wolf has called for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences. GRADE: PASS

5) Abolish the School Reform Commission and return our schools to Local Control.

Tom Corbett favors continuing state control of Philadelphia’s schools and supports the School Reform Commission using its powers to void collective bargaining and limit union rights.  GRADE: FAIL

Tom Wolf supports abolishing the SRC and returning our schools to local control.   He calls for Philadelphians to have the right to elect their school board as does every other community in the state. GRADE: PASS

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Video of Yesterday’s Rally at SRC

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Faces of Solidarity: Yesterday at the SRC

Pictures of yesterday massive demonstration ouside the SRC as well as a snapshot of what went on at the meeting, all from the camera of the incomparable Harvey Finkle.

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Parent Leaders Speak Out in Solidarity with Teachers

DSC00824This morning parents stood on the steps at School District Headquarters and spoke out clearly against the SRC’s cancellation of the PFT contract. Parent leaders from all over the city made clear they understand the sacrifices teachers have and continue to make for their children and stand with them.  We will post exercpts from their statements later.

 

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Philadelphians Show Solidarity With Teachers

Get a sign and write who you are and add “I stand in solidarity with Philadelphia teachers.” Take a selfie, post it on FB and tweet it using the hashtags #solidaritywithteachers and #phled. Like these people did.

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PFT “Turn Up for Truth” Rally

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Send Corbett and the SRC a Message Next Thursday

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Turn Up for Truth rallies at Schools Across City

Rally at John B. Kelley Elementary in Germantown

Rally at John B. Kelley Elementary in Germantown

PFT members and community supporters rallied this morning and leafletted parents, challenging an earlier letter sent to them by the District on the decision to cancel the PFT contract and impose cuts in health care (see flyer below)   A pdf is here.

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Parents and Teachers Sit In lobby of Corbett’s office.

Yesterday, October 9th, at 4:00 PM, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, along with school parents, students, and teachers, attempted to hold mock auction inside the Governor’s office on the 11th floor of the Bellvue Stratford on South Broad St.   Police blocked access to the elevators and about fifty people sat down in the lobby.   PPEHRC leader and Moffat parent Cheri Honkala was arrested.    The demonstration was in response to the SRC’s decision to cut teachers’ health benefits, as well as the long term decline in school funding.

photo credit: Harvey Finkle

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Cheri Honkala

Cheri Honkala

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Report Targers Charter School Fraud

ACTION United, along with the Center for Popular Democracy and  Integrity in Education, released a report on October 1st calling for all those with responsbility for monitoring charters, including the charter schools themselves, to get serious about charter school fraud.   The report documents the 30 million dollars of known fraud and calls for forensic adudits in order to correct the problem.    ACTION United, along with PCAPS, will be developing a campaign around this issue, including passage of legislation, in the coming months.

The report was announced at press conference and rally outside the Governor’s office.   When demonstrators learned that Corbett was up the street a the Union League, they made an effort to deliver a copy of the report to him, but, as usual, the Governor was unwlling to meet with his constituents.

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ACTION United leader Kia Hinton speaking outside Governor office.

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