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Letter to the Editor: Philadelphia needs more money for public schools

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Many thanks to state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler for taking a stand on school funding, especially how it impacts the repair of unsafe schools {“Fiedler calls for funds to fix local schools,” Dec. 25}. For too long, the Pennsylvania legislature has failed to create a balanced education funding formula, especially how it applies to large, mostly poor school districts like Philadelphia. The flawed charter school law has also taken a toll, as has the 17 years of state-imposed control of Philadelphia schools.

Some who complain simplistically that per-pupil funding in Philadelphia has only increased since the early 1980s are forgetting to mention the high cost of school privatization and outsourced services under the state takeover. The money has gone mostly to private charter managers and outside vendors and less for school maintenance, support staff or school libraries. Meanwhile, older school buildings have continued to deteriorate with dangerous health hazards like asbestos, lead paint and mold.

The emergency funding legislation that Rep. Fiedler is proposing is a good start. The legislature must continue to propose not only immediate fixes but how to correct the financial drain caused by an unbalanced funding formula and the present charter school law as well as mandatory standardized testing. Our local school board also needs to clean up its act and restore community control. The health and safety of students and staff are dependent on those in charge taking responsibility.

– Gloria C. Endres

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