Nearly 40 percent of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts receive more state aid per student than does Philadelphia, according to the Pennsylvania Education Department. We rank as the 67th poorest of the state's 500 school districts. The Pittsburgh School District, ranked the 261st poorest, received $2,126 dollars more for every one of its students from the state in 2011-12 than Philadelphia did. If treated equitability, our schools would be receiving $429 million more from the commonwealth. Additionally, we spent 7 percent less per student than the state average in 2011-12. In the three years before your cuts, the school district ran annual surpluses of about $30 million. We weren't spending beyond our means then and we're not doing so today. [...]As O'Brien lays it out, it's clear that Corbett has been targeting Philadelphia's schools; in 2011, as Corbett slashed education funding statewide, "Philadelphia, which educates 11 percent of the state's schoolchildren and half of the state's poor children, bore 39 percent of the cuts." Now, Corbett's answer is that Philadelphia's teachers should make giant concessions and its taxpayers should make up the difference—after he gave businesses tax cuts.
Now, you demand that our teachers help close your budget gap by accepting $133 million in wage and benefit cuts. Do you think they get paid too much? The Pennsylvania School Board Association says that Philadelphia educators are paid 19 percent less than teachers in Bucks and Montgomery counties. And those Pittsburgh teachers from your home county are paid 8 percent more than our educators. Didn't you recently negotiate pay raises to state workers in their last labor contract? Why are raises for state workers OK but only pay cuts appropriate for our educators?
Corbett, meanwhile, hasn't had much opposition on this issue from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Nutter has followed Corbett's lead in demanding concessions from teachers rather than focusing his energy on pushing the governor and legislature to restore the funding Philadelphia's schools should be getting. Corbett may be a lost cause—he clearly intends to destroy Philadelphia's schools. But Nutter should be fighting for his city's kids, not pointing a finger at its underpaid teachers.