A new survey shows that Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate of any of the nation’s 10 largest cities.
28% of the city’s people are poor, as are 39% of its children. The national child poverty rate is 23%.
Now we know from reformers that poverty is no “excuse” for low test scores, but we also know from the reality-based world that low income is highly correlated with low test scores. If you want to learn more, read Richard Rothstein’s “Class and Schools,” or google Helen Ladd’s “Education and Poverty: Confronting the Evidence.”
Thus, it makes no sense to strip the city’s schools of the arts, physical education, librarians, guidance counselors, social workers, and every other support personnel. These children desperately need a good education.
The state of Pennsylvania has a constitutional obligation to educate its children.
And the state thus far has cynically told Philadelphia to extract more taxes from its impoverished population. That is worse than no answer. That is negligence of a high order.
We have a high school dropout rate of 37% -- a huge improvement, believe it or not, over ten years ago. Over 250,000 Philadelphians lack even basic literacy skills. But don't worry, federal and state literacy funding has been cut at least by half in the Lesser Depression.
In the meantime, workers in the city's financial services sector are snapping up expensive homes and condos (with 10-year tax abatements) anywhere near downtown and from what I hear, many of them are registering Republican (of course).
And then they are very, very shocked and very, very angry when they are robbed and assaulted in their hip new neighborhoods. (As Willie Sutton supposedly said when asked why he robbed banks: "Because that's where the money is.")
"What am I paying all these taxes for?" they cry. When they have lower taxes than people who have lived here all their lives. When they had parents who read them bedtime stories and paid for them to get SAT tutoring.
I do not want to hear it.
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