Education advocates release a school report card on how the School District of Philadelphia handles funding.
Education advocates held a news conference today to jointly release a report card that grades funding for Philadelphia public schools. The advocate groups rated the performance of Philadelphia City Council and the Pennsvlvania General Assembly on how the Philadelphia School District is funded.
City Council received a C- and the General Assembly received a D.
Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth Donna Cooper explained the process for giving the grades, noting several 'assignments' that they say the legislatures failed to complete.
"The city council was given a C- because they did show some intent to succeed but failed to demonstrate the results," Cooper said.
Cooper referenced city council's failure to pass the liquor-by-the-drink tax and to make revisions to the city's ten-year property tax abatement as incomplete assignments that contributed to the mediocre grade. She also noted that the grade was not representative of individual council members' performances, as some members, she stated, "have been better champions for the school district than others."
The state's General Assembly, however, was not graded as kindly.
"The General Assembly did much worst. They got a D and we were generous in issuing a D," Cooper said. "They gave us a band-aid to get through this year, but that does not warrant them a passing grade. They failed to prioritize and refused to work collectively in the best interest of the children."
Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Sharon Ward also spoke at the press conference. According to Ward, city council and the state's Assembly were graded based on the funding they provided to the school district and whether or not that funding was one-time, permanent or recurring.
According to Ward, city council provided $67 million in new funding to the district this year, but only $28 million of that funding will be available to the district again next year. Similarly, Ward said the General Assembly provided nearly $48 million to the district, of which less than $3 million can be counted on for next year's school district budget.
"Lawmakers have failed to give students the gift that they really need and that is an end to the student funding crisis that we have been in for two years," Ward said.
The news conference took place at school district headquarters on Thursday afternoon. Ward said the purpose of the conference was to encourage the legislatures to 'complete their assignments' by March 31, so that the school district can include those items in their budget for the following school year.
Cooper says the grades were issued to inspire the legislatures to do better.
Organizations involved in the rating process included Education Voters of Pennsylvania, Parents United for Public Education, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Philly Student Union, Public Citizens for Children and Youth and others.