In case you missed it: This week’s best reads from Pa. cities

     Laura Lloyd teaches third graders in class at Crescent Town Elementary School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Ian Willms/For Keystone Crossroads)

    Laura Lloyd teaches third graders in class at Crescent Town Elementary School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Ian Willms/For Keystone Crossroads)

    Canada: more than just America’s baseball cap. 

    Oh, Canada…education

    It’s really cold in Pennsylvania today. So cold, in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Canada, not the commonwealth. But when it comes to education funding, there are some pretty serious differences between the two. 

    Erie is struggling to keep schools funded — and open — but a few hours north, Ontario is doing things much better. One of the issues is the funding model in Pennsylvania versus Ontario, as well as the approach to preparing teachers. 

    Pennsylvania is debating the merits of universal pre-K, with Philadelphia trying to fund it through soda taxes and Lancaster County struggling to connect eligible children with services. But Ontario is all-in with full-day junior and senior preschool for all 4 and 5 year olds in the province. 

    But Ontario isn’t perfect. Even as they are working to encourage diversity in the school system, they are still struggling to bridge the achievement gap. 

    The city of Erie is working to overcome certain educational shortfalls, like the absence of a community college. Recent attempts to bring a community college to Erie have failed, but the city council is re-upping the issue. As Philly.com reports, Pennsylvania has fewer community colleges per capita than any other state, which makes it a more expensive option than you might find elsewhere. 

    Political futures and political pasts

    Former U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah was sentenced to 10 years in prison for accepting bribes and misusing campaign funds. But in West Philadelphia, the heart of the district he served for 11 terms, his legacy remains strong. 

    Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein’s vote recount saga has come to an end. After taking the issue to a federal court, the recount request was denied. 

    City leaders and planners are looking at President-Elect Donald Trump’s approach to urban issues. Cities, particularly Democrat-led cities like Philadelphia, are preparing to compromise where they can and draw firm lines where they feel they must. After eight years of urban investment from President Obama, there are concerns about all this talk of “urban renewal” from the new administration. 

    Immigrants and refugees are also wondering what a Trump presidency might mean. “DREAMer” students are being advised not to travel around inauguration day, in case Obama’s executive orders around immigration are repealed. 

    Meanwhile, Erie’s refugee community is waiting to see how Trump’s presidency may affect national refugee policy. 

    New solutions to new problems

    Craigslist is great for finding a missed connection or getting a free chest of drawers. But there are dangers, like getting a free chest of drawers from a bad dude. Allentown is following in the footsteps of other Pennsylvania cities by creating a safe trade station outside the police department for people to exchange goods. 

    Philadelphia is moving forward with an ambitious plan to create 10,000 “green jobs” over 10 years. Clients save money on energy bills, buildings get infrastructure upgrades and contractors get to hire green jobs. Win-win-win.

    A new initiative is helping Philadelphians turn food waste into food for the hungry. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, a pair of do-gooder dumpster divers are being charged with trespassing. 

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