As I look into the future of the next challenge, I am confused. I have been forced through the love of my children and the memories of Dr. Constance Clayton to work WITH the school district of Philadelphia. I read in the Mission statement on the districts’ website, which states “The School District of Philadelphia will deliver on the civil right of every child in Philadelphia to an excellent public school education and ensure all children graduate from high school ready to succeed, fully engaged as a citizen of our world.” So the mission says all (Philadelphian) children graduate from high school ready to succeed and that all children have access to an excellent public school. Charter schools and cyber charter schools are both PUBLIC schools. Yet the policies say, we are only going to service the students that generate revenue.The backwards funding model from the State of Pennsylvania encourages the school district to ONLY allocate resources to provide services for what they get paid for NOT the mission of the school district of Philadelphia.
The Pew Trusts published a report in January 2015, called Philadelphia School funding model. In the report, the School District of Philadelphia’s funding was compared with that of 10 other large urban districts in different states for the 2013-14 school year. The districts were chosen because of their demographic and financial similarities to Philadelphia. The comparison found that: Philadelphia’s $12,570 per-pupil operational revenue was well below the average of the other districts, trailing Boston, Milwaukee, Cleveland, New York, Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit.
In 2011, after Republican Tom Corbett replaced Democrat Ed Rendell as governor, the state returned to the hold-harmless system. Pennsylvania is now one of only three states that do not use a school finance formula. Philadelphia relied somewhat more heavily on state revenue and less on local sources than did most of the 10 other districts in 2013-14. In that year, Philadelphia received 45.9 percent of its operational revenue from the state, which was slightly above the 10-district average, and 42.3 percent of its revenue from local sources, which was slightly below the average.
Pittsburgh received considerably more state funding per student than Philadelphia did. The Philadelphia school district received $6,574 per student from the state, while Pittsburgh received $8,649, a difference of $2,075 per pupil. The difference comes in property values per pupil i.e. those who live in a poorer county get a poorer education. Therefore, there is no education equality. Like all other things, education is a product of economics. The economics of education do not fair well for Philadelphians.
This is why I write this report. The dismal state of education makes a dreadful choice for concerned citizens to abandon ship from the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. While I support the relatively low property taxes in Philadelphia, I suffer from those same low taxes in the fight for education equality for my children. As a CFO, I know that Philadelphia does not receive adequate funding with a base pay that is per student (variable) while the district has to deal with unionized labor contracts, maintenance on antiquated buildings that are fixed. So the fixed income budget that they operate runs a negative when the revenue is received is paid variably.
The report also examined how Philadelphia’s revenue, wealth, and student needs compare with those of nine other districts in Pennsylvania—three urban, three suburban, and three rural. The data found large variations in the total revenue each district had to spend per student, caused in part by the differences in property values from one community to another. Philadelphia’s per-pupil revenue was less than Pittsburgh’s but more than Erie’s and Reading’s, less than in the suburban districts but more than in the rural ones.
Excerpt from https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/201… reads “Joined by students from the Harlem Children’s Zone — a 17 year undertaking that found children will do better if those around them are doing better — the President spoke on the importance of making sure everyone who works hard has a fair shot at success, no matter where they come from or who they are. “A child’s course in life should be determined not by the zip code she’s born in, but by the strength of her work ethic and the scope of her dreams,” the President said.
When Constance Clayton was the school districts superintendent, she believed in the dreams of all students. During the beginning of my senior year in high school I was stabbed in the face, neck and arm. That incident turned my academic grades in the positive direction (#theirony). At a special ceremony at Martin Luther King High school, the school district of Philadelphia gave me a scholarship of $300.00 for most improved student with my parents beaming proudly.
I remember when the schools cared about the students instead of fearing the words of students as terroristic threats – BOTH my sons have been charged with that (IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!!!!!). I have made a choice NOT to jump ship but work with the School District to help. What could the district do TODAY to align their mission and limited resources? Use technology, of course! Just like businesses use technology to scale, we can use technology solutions in education.
1) Parent Portal – The website states “The School District of Philadelphia Parent & Family Portal gives you access to valuable information about your child’s education and school. You will be able to view your child’s academic history, test results, attendance, and more. You can also request to receive text messages, emails and/or phone calls about important issues that might impact your child, (i.e. weather-related school closures and delays, attendance alerts and upcoming events of interest to families).” Unfortunately, this great system is only available to public (NOT CHARTER AND NOT CYBER charter students) – who are also public school students. Why not? No reason. That is the difference between doing what is right for the community served versus doing only we the school district gets paid for.
2) Parent Help Line (215) 400-4000. Use this line to be proactive instead of reactive. We can reach out to parents and train them on how to access the Parent portal. Technology still requires training!
3) Stop the adversarial relationship between public school and charter schools. The Pew report also states that “At last count, nearly one-third of Philadelphia students—about 61,000—attended brick-and-mortar charter schools, with 5,100 others enrolled in cyber charters. The district paid the schools $8,417 for each student in 2013-14.” By giving the school district the funding for the charter schools, it is effectively making the two sources who should cooperate and share resources, fight over money, without regards to the needs of the students.
I am inspired by our finest president, Barack Obama, who said in the state of the union address (Jan. 2010) https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pres… “In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential.” I am a Muslim, Philly girl from head to toe who fights for the education equality of all Philadelphians. I desire, like my mother taught me, to pay it forward by GIVING BACK #constanceclayton #youGOweGO #cafe