Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The end of Philly's public schools?

Could all of Philadelphia's school-aged kids soon be destined for charters?

The end of Philly's public schools?


Could all of Philadelphia's school-aged kids soon be destined for charters?

As the district struggles with a serious cash deficit, a top Democratic senator said Monday there has been talk in Capitol halls of turning all of Philadelphia's schools into privately-run charters.

Sen. Vincent Hughes says he heard from "high-placed sources" over the weekend of "charterizing Philadelphia's school district in its entirety," a plan he likened to "a holy war."

"That's untenable, unacceptable," Hughes told reporters during a press availability. "That abrogates contracts, that changes the entire dynamic of what would happen in a school environment. And it takes the school discussion to a whole other level."

He would not give details on just who those high-placed sources are, or whether they are even in the Corbett administration.

"They don't get too much higher," Hughes would only say.

Republicans who control both chambers, as well as the governor's office, say they don't know anything about it.

Gov. Corbett said he had heard about such talks, but that his administration was not a part of them.

And Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) said he had not seen a specific plan or even talked to anyone who was crafting one.

"I don't know that there is any substance to it at this point," Pileggi said. 

Having said that, Pileggi said he could make no promises that Harrisburg can help stop the thousands of planned layoffs Philadelphia's school district announced last week. The district on Friday sent out nearly 3,800 pink slips to employees, and school officials are asking for an extra $120 million from the state to help staunch the financial bloodletting.


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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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