September 29, 2006
Fattah, Gym and Vallas to Discuss Education Funding at Oct. 16 ForumPHILADELPHIA Congressman Chaka Fattah, a long-time advocate for public education, Helen Gym, a former teacher and consultant in the school district and a parent activist, and Philadelphia School District Superintendent Paul Vallas will participate in a panel discussion at a Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellors Forum titled "How Pennsylvania School Funding Jeopardizes Philadelphia's Future (And What You Can Do About It)" on October 16.
The lunchtime meeting, hosted by Chancellor Alan M. Feldman in the Associations 1101 Market Street, 11th floor conference center, is open to the public and begins at noon with a free lunch, followed by the panel presentation at 12:15 p.m. and then a question-and-answer period.
According to Education Week, Pennsylvania ranks among the most unequal states in the nation 43rd out of 50 in the area of education funding. Other figures show that 270 of the states 500 school districts having gaps greater than $3,000 per student in what they spend compared to the top-spending school districts. State data shows if Philadelphia were able to spend the same amount as the average district in the Philadelphia five-county region, it would need $2,125 more per student or $448.4 million per year.
Philadelphia, the largest school district in the state, is once again facing a financial crisis. Philadelphia has the highest class sizes in the region and those numbers are expected to increase during the 2006-2007 school year due to budget cuts.
Everyone knows that for Philadelphia to truly become a great city, it must have a public education system that gives all of its children a real chance to learn and realize their potential. To achieve that objective, we need to fund our schools in a fair and equitable way. Its time for us to begin this important public debate, and to take action to reform an unfair existing system of education funding, Feldman said.
Congressman Fattah, who represents Pennsylvanias Second Congressional District, has supported various innovative educational initiatives during his career. He was the architect of the nationally funded GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), the largest pre-college awareness program in this nation's history. Locally, Fattah created CORE Philly Scholarship, which serves students residing in Philadelphia. Another of Fattahs legislative achievements, The College Retention Program, has provided more than a million students with financial assistance.
Superintendent Vallas recently had his contract renewed through the 2008-2009. During his tenure the standardized test scores in both reading and math for Philadelphia public school students have steadily increased.
Gym has served as both a consultant and a teacher for the Philadelphia School District. She is also the former editor of Public School Notebook, an independent quarterly education newspaper for public school parents and teachers.
Register online now for this event!