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Philly Mayoral Candidate Lynne Abraham Sees Steep Learning Curve in School Reform

Lynne Abraham

Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, like other Democratic hopefuls in Philadelphia’s mayoral race, is focusing on education, an area that is a sore spot in Philly. It is no exaggeration to say that Philadelphia’s schools are in crisis, as its schools rank 441 out of 459 school districts in Pennsylvania, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian. In addition, the public schools have a $81 million budget deficit.

Lynne Abraham, who has advocated improved teacher training and expansion of school libraries to encourage greater literacy, acknowledged the problems in the city’s educational system. “Our city’s economy, education and quality of life are falling behind, ” Abraham wrote on a letter published on her website, “A transformational leader listens to teachers and parents about how our schools can help students grow into productive workers in the new economy.”

Abraham’s opponent, Anthony Hardy Williams, is a supporter of the charter school system, which he says will take some of the burden off the the city budget to improve education. Williams’ website says, “Anthony is a nationally recognized advocate for public charter schools. He is an architect and sponsor of Pennsylvania’s landmark public school legislation, and a leading voice for charter school accountability in Philadelphia.”

The president of the Philadelphia Education Fund, Darren Spielman, indicates that whatever form the solution takes, it should not be couched in partisan terms. He told the Daily Pennsylvanian, “I would be excited to see a candidate for mayor who neither blindly presumes that charterizing the city will solve the educational problem, nor blindly parodying a union-based critique of charter schools. There is no silver bullet solution.”

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