Thursday, October 17, 2013
As noted earlier this week, the situation in Philadelphia's schools had descended into the chaos of a perfect storm. One would think that the Governor eventually would have had to act. The death of a 12 year old girl after a day at school where the nurse had been dismissed due to budget cuts is not the sort of thing a Governor wants to defend. Yesterday, Governor Corbett stepped up and released $45 million so that Philadelphia schools could rehire teachers and assign students back to their normal classrooms (some were apparently in split grade classrooms). A lot of credit goes to civil rights leaders from outside the state, like Wade Henderson, David Sciarra, Ben Jealous and Marc Morial, for putting the Philadelphia schools under a microscope and then shining a national spotlight on them. Once they did so, the Governor acted quicker than most.
This important victory, however, may be shortlived because the underlying problem remains untouched. Philadelphia, and several other districts in the state, are in this mess because the Governor abandoned the funding formula that Governor Rendell had enacted. Forty-seven other states in the country understand that school funding must be based on enrollments, demographics, and local costs (even if their formulas do not perfectly reflect these factors). Governor Corbett returned Pennsylvania to the dark ages of school funding when he abandoned Rendell's formula and appears content to stay there. For more discussion on the formula, see David Sciarra's essay from yesterday.