Jonathan Cetel is the founding executive director of PennCAN. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, Governor Corbett and the General Assembly agreed on a $28.4 billion spending plan for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. And late last night the House approved a deal that will provide additional funding to Philadelphia and pave the way for meaningful reforms. While we are grateful and relieved that a Philadelphia crisis appears to have been averted, we believe that overall this budget does not meet the needs of Pennsylvania’s students:

It doesn’t fully resolve the School District of Philadelphia’s financial crisis or immediately enact meaningful work-rule reforms. A long difficult summer awaits us as the School District of Philadelphia works with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to find the remaining funds and begin implementing meaningful work-rule reforms such as making sure every principal can hire and retain the best teachers.

  • It doesn’t end Pennsylvania’s “last in, first out” teacher layoffs. So new teachers like all-star Jamie Passinault will always be the first to go in budget crunches, no matter how good they are.
  • It doesn’t reform the charter law to pave the way for closing bad schools and opening more great ones. So innovative school leaders like Aaron Bass won’t be able to serve more of the 40,000 students waiting to get in.
  • I want our elected officials to know that while they’ll be home in time to celebrate July 4th, education advocates like us are feeling bittersweet about this budget.

That’s why I’m asking you to donate $5 to a sweet and sour candygram to legislators.

If you donate, we’ll send SourPatch Kids to the Governor and leadership in the House and Senate, along with a note explaining that these kids are sour because another budget has been passed without comprehensive charter reform.

But we’ll also send Hershey Kisses to Senator Smucker and Representative Tim Krieger, the primary sponsors of PennCAN’s bill to reward excellence by ending “last in, first out” and reforming tenure. They were champions for kids this session, and we think they deserve lots of “kisses.”

Your tax-deductible donation will help PennCAN continue advocating for these reforms. We won’t stop pushing for more high-quality school options, better rewards for our excellent teachers, and a solution that solves Philadelphia’s funding crisis and improves educational outcomes.

But, as always, we’ll need your help to get there. So please start by donating $5 to share your feedback with elected officials on their performance this budget season.


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