Gov. Corbett cancels visit to Philadelphia school

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January 17, 2014 2:51:02 PM PST
Gov. Tom Corbett canceled his first visit as governor to a district-run public school in Philadelphia just before dozens of protesters had come to greet him.

Protesters crowded outside Central high school in Olney Friday morning where Governor Corbett was scheduled to honor some of Philadelphia's top performing public high schools.

The protesters hoped to confront the governor about the nearly one billion dollars in funding cuts for public education in the state.

Corbett instead held a news conference Friday at his downtown Philadelphia office where he handed the various awards to school Chief William Hite.

The governor bristled at the suggested he ran away from foes.

"I don't run from anything," said Governor Tom Corbett. "I take decisions head on. But I was not going to be a distraction to the school day or to the students. I was not going to engage in the theatrics of what the adults wanted to do. We have not received, to my knowledge, any requests to sit down and talk."

Corbett is mounting a months-long campaign to commend high-achieving schools on Pennsylvania's first-ever performance scores last fall.

The Philadelphia teachers' union, the NAACP and other community leaders organized the demonstration.

The protesters who claim Corbett is underfunding public schools didn't want him to get any credit for Central High's Academic excellence.

But when Corbett opted to cancel his visit some called him names.

"Governor Corbett, you are a coward," said one protester. "How dare you not come here and speak to these children and speak to all of us. That shows just how much integrity you do not have, and it lets us know that you do not care about us as a whole, the community, the children, the staff members; none of us."

The Philadelphia School District, Pennsylvania's largest, is weathering its worst financial crisis in recent memory.

Some parents and teachers in the heavily Democratic city say it was worsened by Corbett's budget-balancing cuts to education aid in 2011.

Earlier Corbett defended his record on school funding.

"The school funding crisis in Philadelphia is not new," said Governor Corbett. "Go back into the newspapers, Google it. How many years has this been going on?"

"A long time," responded Councilman Bill Green.

Councilman Bill Green was nominated by the Governor as the new Chairman of the School Reform Commission.

Farah Jimenez who heads a social service agency was also nominated to the commission.

Green sent a message to the anti-Corbett protesters which included the teachers union, saying they must make financial concessions.

"The budget this year require significant savings from PFT, and we're not there, and that is going to have to be focus of src very quickly," said Councilman Green.


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