At a discussion of equity and excellence in education in Pennsylvania, John Sarandrea, the superintendent of the Néw Castle district, said:

“I don’t have any problems saying this, because it’s true: Poor kids are getting the shaft right now,” he said to loud applause from the audience.

“How can you possibly not invest in these children early, knowing what will be the outcome if you don’t?” Sarandrea wondered. “It’s negligence. It’s criminal.”

The state has cut nearly a billion dollars from the school budget in the past three years, while giving out corporate tax breaks and opening charter schools. The most successful charter operator–who manages the Chester Community Charter School–is Governor Corbett’s biggest campaign contributor. Vahan Gureghian has made millions managing and supplying his charter school. The local district, meanwhile, has gone bankrupt.

William Hite, the superintendent of the cash-starved Philadelphia district, said a new state funding formula was needed:

“He said any formula for distributing state aid should consider the number of students who live in poverty and are learning to speak English. Hite said Philadelphia has a larger share of those students than any other district in the state but has less money to spend to educate them.”