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Education and the 2015 Philadephia Democratic Mayoral Primary: Where the candidates stand

OTHER ISSUES IN THE MAYOR’S RACE: Technology and Innovation | Transportation | Energy and the Environment | Policing | Pot | Minimum Wage

Education is pretty much THE issue here in Philadelphia as the school district grapples with inadequate funding from Harrisburg and a budget deficit locally that spells layoffs and program cuts. We’re reviewing each of the candidates’ highlights of their education plans. See their websites and policy papers for more details.

Here they are:

Lynne Abraham

Highlights of her plan:

  • Put in place a genuine per-student-allotment in Pennsylvania
  • Bring an action in federal court, if necessary, to assure full, fair funding if those in charge in Harrisburg can’t or won’t step up
  • Impose a moratorium on new charter schools
  • Renovate and rebuild school infrastructure
  • Develop a fund to help Philadelphia public school graduates afford higher education.

Nelson Diaz

Highlights of his plan:

  • Immediately end the SRC and replace it with an appointed school board and a superintendent accountable to the mayor
  • Provide children with summer programs that engage them, after-school programs that keep them off the street, and food, health, and mental health services
  • Push for a fair funding formula that gives Philadelphia and other high needs districts aid
  • Implement fundamental tax reform to produce more revenue more fairly while removing elements of the tax code that negatively impact job growth

Jim Kenney

Highlights from his plan:

  • Find the funding to provide access to high­-quality Pre-­K to three and four year old Philadelphians in need over the next three years
  • Facilitate partnerships with outside community organizations and local businesses to increase the resources available
  • Pursue the development of a community school model that provides services to children and their families
  • Work to make schools financially stable so that Harrisburg has no reason to continue to saddle Philadelphia with the SRC
  • Institute a moratorium on the SRC’s grant of any new charter schools until Harrisburg agrees to reimburse the District in full for charter costs.

Doug Oliver

Highlights from his plan:

  • Institute aggressive intervention policies to deal with underperforming Philadelphia public and charter schools
  • Put a performance improvement plan in place for schools that underperform in any single academic year and changing the management of schools that fail to meet standards for two consecutive years
  • Change the SRC: the Mayor should appoint three SRC board members, while the Governor should appoint the two remaining board members. (This flips the current order, where the Governor appoints three and the Mayor two.)
  • Schools may need to be shuttered and replaced by new, suitability-sized schools in similar proximity in order to minimize inconvenience for families as much as possible

T. Milton Street

Milton Street doesn’t have a policy paper on education, but here’s an excerpt from The Inquirer’s coverage of an education forum:

Street drew perhaps the biggest reaction of the evening when he said that asking white lawmakers in Harrisburg for more money for a district composed of mostly African American and Latino children wasn’t going to work.

“Come on, people! Wake up and smell the veggie burgers!” he said to guffaws.

The next mayor must address violence in city schools, Street said, if Philadelphia wants to be taken seriously in Harrisburg.

Anthony Williams

Highlights of his plan:

  • Securing more state funding for Philadelphia public schools by working for the enactment of a comprehensive and fair funding formula
  • Demanding results through longer school days, a longer school year, and by implementing evidence-based practices that improve educational experiences
  • Providing every family with universal access to Pre-K
  • Partnering with City Council and the nonprofit sector to re-establish neighborhood schools as community anchors.
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