Downtown Philadelphia (iStock)

Late last week, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) voted to dissolve itself. After nearly 16 years of existence, the commission, which primarily served to govern over Philadelphia’s public, district-managed and charter schools, will hand these responsibilities over to the city on June 30, 2018.

The Chamber believes that an educated and diverse workforce is key to the long-term competitive success of the city and region and acts as a catalyst to attract and retain businesses.  To achieve that objective, we need a strong public education system that is adequately funded and professionally managed and governed.

Our broad and practical expectations of Philadelphia’s future workforce are based on the following principles, regardless of the governance model deployed to make it so:

•   Public funding

 

•   Efficiency and innovation 

•   Encouraging the deployment of innovative educational models, partnerships, and technologies that might include shared data across public, charter, and parochial schools, to best assess and respond to the current needs for all Philadelphia students

Over the past several years, the Chamber has been a fierce advocate for high quality educational outcomes. We have worked closely with the SRC and the School District of Philadelphia on many fronts, from helping to secure approval for $300 million in financing to being involved in a statewide coalition to modernize education in the Commonwealth. In addition, the Chamber, through its members, has led engagement strategies across the PreK-12 continuum through the following initiatives:

•   Read to Me:  a yearlong program that supports early childhood literacy. 

•   Read by 4th:  a citywide effort to double the number of children reading at grade level.

•   Future Ready Career Pathways: a program that engages middle schoolers in future career opportunities.

•   Youth Workforce Development: a campaign that supports the work of the Philadelphia Youth Network.

It is important to note that any future legislative and regulatory initiatives must consider the potential impact on the competitiveness of our city – from an educational outcomes perspective and from a tax structure and level perspective.

We look forward to being a part of the conversation as the city and School District of Philadelphia come together to lead students into a well-educated and prosperous future for Philadelphia.

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