Raise taxes on large corporations who have dodged their responsibility as citizens of our area. Direct that new revenue entirely in to the school system. Our city will die on the vine if we can not populate it with a new generation of citizens who are positive members of it. This new generation will improve the ENTIRE region BECAUSE they are educated.
We've been a bit hesitant to wade into the school funding issues for a variety of reasons. While there's no question that fair school funding is incredibly important for a healthy and growing urban area, there's a challenge of scope for our organization. As an all-volunteer organization with limited resources, and a very specific mission focused on streets, land use, and transportation, it's been hard to justify devoting 5th Square's time and attention to a general push for school funding, especially when so many other groups are already working on this.
We would happily join the coalition for a fairer state funding formula, but so far, our thinking has been that it doesn't make much sense for us organizationally to be deeply engaged on this issue on a day-to-day basis, especially when the commitment level necessary to make a difference is so high. At the same time, we want to do right by our supporters, many of whom want to see us speak more to the education problems Philly is facing. So we want to challenge ourselves and our supporters to come up with some creative twofer ideas that can have an impact on both schools and urbanism in a single stroke.
Safe Routes to School is an obvious one, as is the push from groups like Community Design Collaborative and Big Sandbox to turn asphalt schoolyards into green community spaces.
Without wading into the pay-fors right now, what would you think about a funding formula plank supporting more state school funding for growing areas who are willing to budget for more housing growth in central cities and downtowns? Massachusetts adopted this policy in 2006 under then-Governor Mitt Romney, as a way to counterbalance local worries that more housing growth will mean more schoolchildren and ultimately higher local school taxes. By removing that excuse, Massachusetts has encouraged the kind of urban downtown development we want to see across Pennsylvania, and given more money to urban school districts at the same time.