Did you hear about the budget crisis that stripped Philadelphia’s public schools of teachers, nurses, librarians, supplies, and many other things? Did you read that the school district has a budget deficit of $300 million and that Governor Corbett wants teachers to take salary cuts and layoffs to save over $100 million? Did you read about the 12-year-old child who died because she had an asthma attack on a day when the school did not have a nurse?

Surely, the city of Philadelphia must be in dire straits if it can no longer pay for public education?

Think again. Read this eye-popping account of the great financial success of Philadelphia’s corporate sector. Read about the salaries of Philadelphia’s university presidents (in one case, $2.1 million–job well done!). Read about how Philadelphia’s elite is thriving but unwilling to pay for decent schools for the city’s children.

Here is one corporation that is very successful indeed:

Higher education in Philadelphia is doing very well indeed even if the city’s teachers and public schools are not:

2013, however, wasn’t a bad year for all educators in the city – just for those who choose to work with society’s poorest and most vulnerable members. While the School District demands that we public school teachers take a 13% pay-cut, make 13% contributions to our healthcare, and forego all cost-of-living adjustment until 2017, other educational institutions in the city such as the University of Pennsylvania gave their professors and administrators exorbitant raises. PENN’s President, for example, was given a whopping 43% raise in 2013 and now earns nearly $2.1 million… God forbid these educators who sacrifice themselves in order to mold the privileged future Wall Street gluttons of Wharton should not be properly compensated. 

The chairman of Penn’s board of trustees is David Cohen, vice president of Comcast. He is a key player in the negotiations over the future of the Philadelphia school district:

David Cohen, by the way, is also the same person who recommended that Philadelphia public school teachers make the aforementioned 13% concessions in order to help solve the District’s budget issues while he brokered a deal with Harrisburg. I suppose that, unlike PENN, he doesn’t think we have the best public school teachers in Philadelphia — nor should their salary “reflect that reality.” What qualifies Cohen to make recommendations about Philadelphia’s public schools? Well, apart from giving Gutmann a 43% raise and demanding teachers take a 13% paycut, here’s what else he accomplished in 2013:
  1. As Vice President of Comcast, he cashed in an annual salary of $16.2 million (Pulling in that kind of money, I’m sure he’s a public school parent with vested interest.)
  2. He held a $32,400 a plate dinner fundraising event for the Democratic Party at his Mt. Airy mansion. President Obama was in attendance as well, and why wouldn’t he be? Cohen helped raise over $500,000 for Obama’s re-election campaign back in 2012.
  3. He held a Republican fundraising event at that same Mt. Airy home to help kick-off Governor Corbett’s re-election campaign. Who cares about political ideology when you have the money to pay off both sides?

With so much money and power at the top, who is protecting the interests of the children of Philadelphia? Don’t they deserve to be in schools with libraries and librarians, with experienced teachers, with social workers, with guidance counselors to help them prepare college applications, with teachers of the arts and foreign languages, with reasonable class sizes?