Dignitaries and politicians gathered on Independence Mall Monday to honor the late Nelson Mandela in the annual Martin Luther King Day ringing of the Liberty Bell.
Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter spoke in front of an audience that included Governor Tom Corbett, publicly calling for a “fair and full” education funding formula.
Nutter has been criticized by some for not lobbying Governor Corbett more aggressively for more education funding in the midst of the Philadelphia school district’s draconian cuts to staff and services.
At Monday’s noon-time event — with the Liberty Bell over one shoulder and the stoic face of the Gov. Corbett over the other — Nutter attempted to silence those critics by centering his Martin Luther King Day speech on the importance of good, well-resourced schools.
“The fight for equality and justice must be won for fair and full funding for educating all of our young people across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and certainly here in Philadelphia,” said Nutter, “and I believe that you cannot be free without an education — not just an adequate education, but a superior education — to be a first class citizen in this country.”
Governor Corbett, who spoke before Nutter, left the event without fielding questions from reporters. Corbett has defended his education record as a product of recession-era revenue collection. He says he was left to fix budgets with structural deficits that couldn’t be papered over.
Under Corbett, Pennsylvania became one of three states that doesn’t utilize a student-weighted predictable funding formula to distribute the state basic education subsidy.
Corbett is expected to announce hundreds of millions of dollars in new education funding in his February 4th budget address.