The Chester Upland School District, which serves Chester City, Upland, and Chester Township in southeastern Pennsylvania is in crisis. The school district, with the highest percentage of students living in poverty in Pennsylvania, has suffered from cuts in state funding instituted by the administration of Governor Tom Corbett, and is now $20 million in the hole and unable to pay its teachers. The school district has also in recent years lost nearly half its students, and the state funding for them, to charter schools.
The Corbett administration has washed its hands of any responsibility, and blames the school district crisis on the district’s own mismanagement. Governor Corbett is apparently willing to let the school district collapse, close the public schools, and turn 3,700 students out into the streets in the middle of the school year. This from a governor who in 2010 campaigned on a platform stating that, “All Pennsylvania children, regardless of zip code, race, education or socioeconomic status, deserve access to a first class education to help them achieve their full potential.” Candidate Corbett also advocated “Enhancing Educational Opportunities” through various initiatives, most of which would have required additional funding.
Governor Corbett, you are responsible for the welfare of the people of Pennsylvania, and especially for its children. It is your responsibility to keep the public schools in the Chester Upland district open and serving its students. How you do it is less important than that you do what is necessary to save the schools.
If you truly believe financial mismanagement is what has driven the school district into crisis, then you need to act to place the school district back into the receivership from which it emerged two years ago. The state needs to again step in and take over the operations of the school district.
What you can’t do is what you are doing now. Nothing.