In an interview with the Inquirer’s Kristen Graham, Bill Green, dimisses the importance of a referendum on abolishing the SRC and returning our schools to local control. He also perpetuates the misunderstanding that state funding depends on having the SRC in place.
According to Green the SRC will only go away when he and his fellow appointees decide it should. “”The SRC will eliminate itself when our academic and fiscal houses are in order,” he told the Inquirer. After 13 years of state control our “academic and fiscal house” is on the verge of collapse and the SRC has no remedies beyond begging it’s patrons in Harrisburg and City Hall to pass a regressive tax on smokers that will at best maintain an unacceptable status quo.
Our City, Our Schools
While Green and others dismiss the referendum as inconsequential because it is non binding, the truth of the matter is that they don’t want the citizenry declaring themselves on this question. If, as we expect, a large majority vote yes it will expose the SRC’s lack of legitimacy. It will set the stage for winning genuinely democratic governance in which the people select a school board that is accountable to them.
Green mistakenly assumes the SRC will only go when he says it is ready. However the state legislature, by repealing ACT 46, the state takeover law, would eliminate the SRC, independently of its wishes in the matter. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf is on record as supporting this and might tip the legislature to take this step.
What the 40,000 people who signed the petition for this ballot question want is nothing more than every other Pennsylvania community has. A direct voice in selecting who runs our schools and the means to hold them accountable.
State Control and State Dollars
A common sleight of hand engaged in by Green and SRC supporters is to suggest repeal of ACT 46 will mean less state funding. While in the first few years of state control the District did get some additional state money, under Corbett Philadelphia has been seriously short changed. His administration discarded the funding formula adopted during the Rendell years in which Philadelphia and other high poverty Districts got additional dollars. He also eliminated the Charter Reimbursement line item in the budget which especially hurt Philadelphia.
The road forward in terms of increasing state funding is to build a state wide alliance that can enact a fair funding formula and win new, robust revenue from taxing shale and closing corporate tax loopholes. State control insures neither.