September 07

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Math, mandates, reality (and art)

MATH, MANDATES, REALITY (and, ART)

First the Math: The total expenditure per Philadelphia student is $13,167, less than the statewide average of $14,108. (If you prefer percentages, Philly pays more for its schools than it used to and the state contributes less.) This means Philly students get less than the state’s per pupil average. (This has been called a financial crisis).

Now the Mandates: Philadelphia’s State Constitution (Article III, Section 14) mandates “the General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth”. (This has been called an extraordinary situation by the current school superintendent).

And, the Reality: Philadelphia’s public education dismantlement is the result of historical property taxation, regime changes at the state and local level, deep structural poverty, and the new political economy of urban education in America.

Philly schools will open next Monday. Reforms remain in doubt. Teacher motivation is questionable; a truly ambiguous time for all of us committed to quality education for our students.

The McKinsey Project’s study of the highest performing schools in the world sites three critical activities that matter most (1) Getting the right people to become teachers; (2) Developing them into effective instructors; and (3) Ensuring that the system is available to provide the best quality instruction to every child.

What am I doing here in Philly? Why did I move away from family, friends, and colleagues for six months? Why did I vacate my job? And, why did I ask my Vaccine Business Unit, Regional Vice President, First Line Leader, Laura, Dan, Andrea, and Chris, my customers, and many more to pardon my absence?

Because I am working for the Philadelphia Education Fund who NEEDS TO BE actively engaged in all three of these critical activities to BE THE CHANGE.

Thank you everyone for responding to my BLOGs.  Please stay tuned. Next, I may share the exceptionally high turnover rates at my non-profit (minus 7 out of 40 in two months) then, how the Philadelphia School District is selling off a collection of 1,125 paintings, sculptures, and other cherished pieces…..

Art matters to me and Mrs. Krupknick, a teacher at Northeast Philadelphia’s Wilson Middle School. She taught her students about the 19th and 20th century paintings lining her school halls. She says, “Not one student damaged any painting in the building. And we had some wild kids”.