‘The full loaf, not just crumbs’: Mayor Parker says more state funding needed to enact year-round Philly schools plan

Parker outlined her vision for Philly's schools to the city's business leaders at the annual Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

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Mayor Cherelle Parker speaks at a podium.

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker addressed the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce for the first time on Feb. 28, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker stepped to the podium as the music of Philly’s own Jill Scott played in the background. Parker smiled and chuckled about the song choice as she warmed the sold-out crowd of thousands of business leaders.

Parker, who is no stranger to being unapologetically “real” with her delivery, attracted a record crowd to the annual Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia Mayoral luncheon Wednesday.

More than 2,000 business community members came to hear from the city’s 100th mayor. The gathering, which celebrated Parker as the first Black woman to hold the city’s top position, was also the largest on record for the Chamber.

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Parker discussed the state of the economy and crime and doubled down on her vision for the future of education in Philadelphia.

She asked the crowd to use their imagination as she recited the ruling that confirmed the Pennsylvania system for funding public education is unconstitutional.

“Imagine if we were able to realize several hundred more dollars for public education. Not in years,” said Parker, who stressed the necessity for that influx of money for Philly’s public schools sooner than later.

Parker asked and answered for the crowd, “Why is this important? Because our students deserve the full loaf and not crumbs. That’s what the students in the School District of Philadelphia deserve.” Parker’s remarks drew an eruption of applause.

Parker also told the crowd of executives, elected officials, business owners and civic leaders that she would need the business community’s support to ensure education is equitable for all.

“So, Cherelle, what do you want to say to the chamber about public education? I want to call on the chamber, its board, and every member to join with us in fighting for the full loaf of education funding for our students, the full loaf, not just crumbs. We deserve it, but we can’t just do it alone,” Parker said.

Parker stood firm on her message about the importance of providing full-time, year-round school for students.

“It includes a plan for full-day and year-round schooling so that students can get the educational enrichment that they need throughout the year and schedules that work for working families,” said Parker.

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The mayor expressed her desire to work with business leaders to address education shortfalls and hopes to see more money put into schools to provide higher-quality education for the city’s students, which she said would benefit everyone.

“We have a historic opportunity right now. The basic funding commission has recommended an infusion of 1.4 Billion dollars for Philadelphia schools over the next 7 years,” Parker said.

“Our Governor Shapiro, in his budget last month, proposed $242 million more in education funds for Philadelphia this year, and I’m here to say to each of you that we need every dollar and more.”

Parker promised to work with Superintendent Dr. Tony Watlington and the school board to ensure students get the education they need to succeed.

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