For the last two decades, Pennsylvania’s political leaders have attempted to improve schools in Philadelphia without spending money. In 2001, Governor Thomas Ridge turned to Chris Whittle and his Edison Project to study the school system and create a reform plan. That December, the state of Pennsylvania disbanded the local school board and assumed total control of the district.
Since then, citizens of Philadelphia have endured – with minimal input – a relentless school choice agenda and the loss of public schools in their neighborhoods.
Politicians – not wanting to spend on education – often claim the problem is public schools have become bloated and inefficient. This assertion is normally paired with an attack on teachers’ unions as being the enemy of good pedagogy and progress. The medicine offered to solve these ills is competition and market forces. It is theorized that competition will improve management and force teachers to do their job better.
After two decades of implementing this theory in Philadelphia; test scores are still low, communities are still plagued by poverty and fraud is rampant. Worst of all, the public-school system has been significantly harmed. [Read more…]