Candidate Oliver discusses plan to help students outside the classroom

     Doug Oliver discusses his education plan. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Doug Oliver discusses his education plan. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Philadelphia mayoral candidate Doug Oliver has released a plan he says will deal with the issues affecting the city’s school students outside the classroom.

    Sitting at a conference table lined with artfully arranged library books at Francis E. Willard elementary school in Port Richmond, Oliver presented an addendum to his education policy he calls “Homework.”

    He says the plan would address a myriad of issues that negatively affect students’ performance from schools with broken water fountains to parents who are addicted to drugs and neighborhoods without access to fresh food. 

    Oliver wants to create separate task forces for city agencies, social service organizations, nonprofits, and the city’s universities and medical institutions. Those task forces, he says, would work together with the goal of making children better prepared to learn. 

    Take the broken water fountains, for example –

    “I imagine city agencies coming and looking through the lens about how do we educate kids,” he said. “I think that’s a fundamentally different question than what the Water Department asks itself, which is how do we replace this old infrastructure? I want them thinking about our kids when they budget.”

    However, Oliver could not explain exactly how that would work, other than drawing the initial line between a need and a related city agency. 

    “I can see the connections on my own, but what that looks like – there are people who study that every day,” he said.

    In a crowded field of Democratic mayoral candidates who have all centered their platforms on school funding, this appeared to be Oliver’s attempt to rise above the noise. 

    Oliver admitted his plan would not likely bring a flow of new revenue into the cash-strapped school district, but rather “it’s a coordinating of existing money,” he said.

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