WE NEED TO ELECT A GOVERNOR WHO WILL FIGHT FOR THESE THINGS:
1) An Equitable Funding Formula for Distributing State Education Dollars
Currently funding is being driven by political calculation and poorer Districts are taking a big hit. We need a formula that allocates dollars based on what it costs to educate children For each District it needs to take into account:
- Numbers of families living in poverty
- Numbers of English Language Learners and Special Needs Students
- Capacity of the Local District to pay
The formula adopted and partially implemented during the Rendell years is a starting point. Other states like New Jersey make full funding a priority in poorer Districts. Pennsylvania should do no less.
2) Increase the Revenue for Public Education and Human Services
Full funding requires reordering state priorities in a way that will make more revenue available for schools, health care and vital human services. Corporations and the super rich must pay their fair shares. We call for:
- An End to Corporate Tax Loopholes and Subsidies. The Delaware tax loophole, which enables 70% of the corporations that do business in Pennsylvania to avoid paying taxes, needs to be closed.
- Enact a Fair Tax on Gas Drillers. Pennsylvania is last when it comes to taxing Marcellus shale drilling A tax in line with what other states have passed would raise 200 million annually.
- Stop New Prison Construction The huge capital investment in new prisons is costly and should be ended.
3) Charter School Accountability
Unchecked, unregulated charter school expansion is creating fiscal instability in Districts like Philadelphia and driving the closing of neighborhood public schools. Legislation that would eliminate local monitoring of charters and vest all supervision in the state will further weaken Districts and undermine democratic governance. Instead we need:
- A Level Playing Field for Charters. Restrictive admission policies that allow charters to cherry pick students need to be eliminated. Charters that persistently under perform or mismanage public funds should be closed. Charters should be expected to innovate and produce.
- End the Cyber School Boondoggle. For profit cyber charter schools are funded at the same level as brick and mortar charters even though their operating costs are significantly less, costing local Districts millions. Moreover these schools are close to the bottom in terms of academic performance.
- Strengthen Local Control. Local districts need to be able to regulate charter school growth, monitor performance, and be able to shut down low performing schools in a timely fashion.
4) Schools, Not Prisons
In Philadelphia and elsewhere we have seen the development of a school-to-prison pipe line that substitutes mass incarceration of poor people of color for investment in quality schools and good jobs. Besides opposing expanded prison construction we need to examine misguided policies in both schools and the criminal justice system that criminalize young people and deny them an opportunity for a decent future.
• Promote community schools – Schools that respond to the needs of communities by incorporating social services , service based learning, and a real voice for parents, students and residents can better meet the needs of our children.
• Schools need to be encouraged to develop restorative justice programs that teach individual and social responsibility as opposed to harsh, zero tolerance policies.
• Punitive sentencing, a war on drugs that targets people of color for harsh treatment for minor offences and a policy that, by default, prosecutes all juveniles charged with felonies as adults are examples of criminal justice policies that need to be reexamined.
5) Abolish the School Reform Commission, Return our Schools to Local Control.
State control of Philadelphia and other troubled Districts denies these communities the long recognized right to run their own schools. We have seen how a board appointed by the Governor and, secondarily, the Mayor, caters to self appointed civic elites and ignores parents, students, educators and the community. Rather than providing Local Districts with the resources they need to make progress, the State run District has imposed an agenda of privatization and austerity. It’s time to repeal ACT 46, the State Take Over law.