Empty words don’t fill classrooms with learning

The kids are our future.

If we had a nickel for every time a politician has intoned that cliché, we could close the fiscal holes plaguing the Philadelphia schools, and many suburban systems, too.

Yep, the kids are our future, the politicians tell us at campaign time.

What they neglect to mention is that, come budget time, they’re not going to give a crap about the future.

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The kids? Let ‘em shift for themselves, costly little buggers.

School budgets are in crisis in Philly, across Jersey and Pennsylvania..

Today, governors and lawmakers are doing what they usually do when the readily available cash doesn’t align with schools’ needs.

For openers, they make bold noises about making tough choices.

But be clear: These politicians have no intention of making such choices themselves. Cowards that they are, they plan to pawn the pain off on local school officials, or in Philadelphia, the City Council and mayor.

Courage was not in fashion last week at Philly City Council, either. Members mostly blustered and postured as Superintendent Arlene Ackerman made like Oliver Twist, begging for, oh, $110 million or so in gruel.   Mayor Nutter sort of promised to find the dough, while being spectacularly vague as to how.

Mike, Council: I’ll tell you how to raise money to do right by the kids.  (And, yep, it’s too bad Gov. Corbett mulishly won’t do what he should, levy a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling. But that is what it is.)

So here’s what you have to do: raised the darn property tax. I know Philly taxes are high, but this is the one that isn’t. Suburbanites are used to paying four to five times as much as Philadelphians in property taxes. They are going to laugh out loud if you claim that a property tax hike is out of the question.

Philadelphians seem to have a hard time understanding that they don’t live in a sound-proof booth. People, the ‘burbs and Harrisburg can hear what you say. If you won’t lift one of your own fingers to help the city schools, they’ll respond, “Why the heck should we?”

So, city politicians, take your courage out of the blind trust where you’ve parked it for most of your careers. Do the hard thing to find the money for the kids.

Or else, please, never use the words kids and future in the same sentence again.


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