Williams faces tough questions on school choice in bid for Philly mayor

Philadelphia mayoral candidate Anthony Williams went to a laid back monthly meetup above a South Street bar last night to answer voter questions. But it was state Sen. Williams’ position on education that took center stage.

The progressive political group Philly for Change held its candidates night in a room covered in graffiti-style writing above Tatooed Mom’s, where old bumper cars doubled as chairs. The buttoned-down Williams seemed a bit out of his element.

“I’m grateful that I was invited here tonight, because I’ve never been in this room before,” Williams said.

Williams has been backed by donors who are vocally pro-charter and pro voucher, and has voiced support for school choice. Not a popular stance with the crowd.

“We’ll just go to the heart of it,” he said, jumping out in front of the issue. “You know, I’ve heard people describe me of late as the voucher charter guy. And I will accept responsibility for talking about options.”

Event organizer Sam Durso asked Williams if he’d like to see charters expanded even at the expense of public schools.

“The idea of closing more public schools and replacing them with either more charter schools and vouchers something that you think is a good idea?” Durso asked.

Williams said he’s in favor of whatever kind of school can work — and that many public schools simply don’t.

“I don’t know if you saw the news that there was a school in Philadelphia where two teachers were knocked out…it provides fear throughout the entire school,” he replied.

Polls and voter feedback indicate the future of Philly’s schools is a top issue in the mayor’s race.

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