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Education the lead issue at gubernatorial candidate forum

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by Isaac Riddle

Five of the eight Democrats vying to challenge Gov. Corbett next year gathered in front of education and community groups at a candidate forum held at Temple University last Saturday.

The forum opened to chants of “whose children, our children” and “whose jobs, our jobs” by members of the audience.

Corbett, who has no Republican primary opponents, declined to attend the bipartisan forum. The audience erupted in boos when his name was mentioned.

“It is cold outside, but there is some fire in here,” said the Rev. Mark Tyler of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, who moderated the forum.

The format included testimony by members of the audience, followed by a response from the candidates. The first topic was education. A recent Franklin and Marshall poll showed that 21 percent of voters felt that education was the most important issue in the state.

“Education cuts that have happened over the last few years are inflicting damage in Philadelphia that will take years to unravel,” Tyler said.  “Here in Philadelphia, this is nothing short of a crisis.”

In one way or another, all the candidates criticized Corbett’s education policies and called for fair and adequate funding of schools statewide.

“We need a governor who will put students first. We need a governor who understands that poverty, hunger, unemployment, underemployment, substandard housing and epidemic violence has an impact on our children and their education,” said Kia Hinton, the education committee co-chair of ACTION United.

Hinton’s comments were accompanied by chants of “no more” from the audience. “We need a governor who understands that every student, regardless of who they are and where they live, deserves a quality education.”

Allyson Schwartz, Tom Wolf, Katie McGinty, Rob McCord and John Hanger were the candidates who attended.

The Media Mobilizing Project has provided video of the event, which starts at the 18-minute mark.

 

Isaac Riddle is a Notebook intern.

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