District budget / Smart stuff

Our Public Ed Hero of the Day: Senator Vincent Hughes

Hughes at Gompers

Senator Vincent Hughes visits Gompers Elementary, one of 29 schools slated for closure. (Source: senatorhughes.com)

Color us grateful.

In response to last week’s jaw-dropping summary of the District’s preliminary contract proposals to Philadelphia teachers, Senator Vince Hughes tweeted:

Senator Hughes2Senator Hughes‏@SenatorHughes

@MaxJWeiss bad offer from SRC. They should be coming to hbg for more help, but they refuse to

This week Senator Hughes went a step further and clarified that the SRC has only asked for $15 million additional from Governor Corbett, the exact amount allotted to Philadelphia in the first draft of the Governor’s budget proposal. In a public letter to SRC Chair Pedro Ramos, Sen. Hughes wrote:

I am writing to express my deep concerns over recent news reports of the contract proposal submitted to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers by the Philadelphia School District and the impact it would have on the students, faculty and staff of Philadelphia schools,and the city as a whole.

The demands you seek hurt students and families that have already made significant financial sacrifices and absolve Governor Corbett of his responsibility for cutting over $300million in funding for the Philadelphia School District over the past two budget cycles. Your decision not to seek more state dollars is inexcusable and an act of hypocrisy for someone charged with acting in the best interests of the children of Philadelphia.

In a series of tweets this week, Senator Hughes continued raising concerns:

Senator Hughes2Senator Hughes‏@SenatorHughes

For the SRC Chairman not come to Corbett for appropriate funding is unacceptable…Corbett cuts have resulted in a $300M loss for Philly SD

The senator, head of the Democratic Appropriations Committee, also made public his concerns about school closings, about the decline in classroom based funding, and above all, the failure of the Governor to invest responsibly, adequately, and willingly into education.

It’s worth noting that last spring, the School Reform Commission openly promised they would go to Harrisburg with community members to seek funding from the Governor. Apparently, the SRC did so quietly, acquiescingly, and obediently. They clearly did so without the voices of the thousands of parents, teachers, community members, clergy and students who have been engaged around the District’s latest budget crisis.

Recently, Education Law Center reported that Pennsylvania is one of only three states who lack an education funding formula. That means there’s no rhyme or reason to how districts get funded in this state. It’s inconceivable that our children’s resources are hatched in backroom deals with no logic, numbers, needs, equity or justice guiding the distribution of billions of dollars. But apparently, that’s our Governor for ya!

So thank you Senator Hughes for being so vocal and specific in your responsible and necessary critique of the SRC and for asking the essential question of whose interests are truly being served.

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One thought on “Our Public Ed Hero of the Day: Senator Vincent Hughes

  1. Senator Hughes has been a consistent voice of reason regarding the PA education budget and a strong advocate for our children’s schools. I’m very grateful for his advocacy.

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