Just before 9 a.m., Edward Koch, principal of Fairhill School in West Kensington, quiets the cafeteria full of the more than 300 children in grades pre-K to 8 in the school’s academic program this summer and then proceeds to make announcements in both English and Spanish.
After weeks of legislative wrangling, Pennsylvania is still far from a deal for increasing education funding and reducing property taxes.
Governor Ed Rendell has linked the need for tax reform and education funding and has threatened to veto any budget that does not include at least partial funding of his proposed preschool initiatives.
Six weeks before school opens, schools that are run by Edison and Victory, two for-profit school management companies, have many more teacher vacancies to fill than most other Philadelphia public schools. One middle school still has to find 19 teachers.
All Pennsylvania public school students are required to meet state-mandated educational standards in reading, writing, and math as measured by the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). But for the more than 12,000 Philadelphia public school students classified as having limited English language proficiency, the administration of the test solely in English makes high achievement a difficult task at best.