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Written by David Bradley   
Published on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 11:00

As we kick off our Kids Count Campaign next week, we're paying close attention to the current budget crisis for public schools. Yesterday, LiveConnections co-founder David Bradley testified before city council as part of the hearings about Philadelphia school district funding. The full text of his presentation is included below.

 

Testimony to City Council on Behalf of School District of Philadelphia Funding
April 30, 2013


President Clarke and Fellow Council Members,

My name is David Bradley. I am a resident of Northwest Philadelphia. I want to thank our council member Cindy Bass for her work on behalf of our neighborhood.

My wife and I have lived in Philadelphia for 20 years. When our Center City apartment was sold in 1998 we chose to buy our current row home in Northwest Philadelphia because as a young couple we felt it was important to put our family’s roots down in the city and contribute to its growth.

We now have a 5th grader at Masterman. We have another son who is anticipating his applications to Central and Science Leadership Academy and the Academy at Palumbo. And, as a theater director, arts educator and arts leader, I have created work with and for thousands of Philadelphia public school students through Philadelphia Young Playwrights, the National Constitution Center, People’s Light and Theatre and the music nonprofit LiveConnections, among others.

These young people are asking passionate questions about our Constitution. They are writing plays about the world they envision. They are performing alongside professional musicians with joy. Their minds are open, their voices are strong, their lives are full of promise.

And if the proposed school budget is adopted, my city, our city, will tell them: we’re sorry, we can’t afford to nurture that promise. Do it on your own, because the buck stopped here and died.

I’m a parent and I stand fully behind the District’s request for $60 million from the city and $120 million from the state. I’m a taxpayer and I will pay more taxes—through the AVI or a liquor by the drink tax or another suitable method if it means full funding for our schools.

I have never testified before City Council. But the decimation facing our kids and our schools got me here today. And it’s an honor to be in the same room where 37 years ago my grandfather Michael J. Bradley, a former U.S. Congressman, gave his final address as a public servant. In that address he spoke passionately about the need to stand for principle and make the sacrifices and compromises necessary to achieve those principles. Today, the principles are clear. Number 1: our children deserve a great education. Number 2: to thrive our city must offer that education to all, or lose its citizenry to a devastating combination of poverty, neglect and suburban flight.

The sacrifices are clear. I’m going to have to pay my share in taxes, even more taxes. The state is going to have to live up to its responsibility for its principal urban district. The city is going to have to commit to more revenue.

My grandfather served in Congress when the Depression and World War II showed this nation what a government’s commitment to its citizens and the citizenry’s commitment to common purpose could achieve.

You can commit to those ideals again by meeting the District’s request for funding, or you can tell our kids, and their parents, that there’s a great education waiting for them—just over the city line.

The other night my wife and I had a sobering conversation. If these cuts go through, we’d have to leave the city. There is no quality education possible under this budget. And you know what? We—wage, property and business taxpayers—have the ability to make that choice. Too many in the city can’t make that choice.

But right now, my son Noah and his pals Eddie and Jared are just up the street working on their project for this year’s Masterman science fair. They are testing the effects of age on memory.

No matter how old they get, they won’t forget the spring when their leaders stood up for them and said, since you’re working hard for your education we’ll work hard for your education. No matter what else they lose track of, they won’t forget the spring when the grown ups acted like the grown ups and set the stage for a better future for the kids.

No matter what fades away, they won’t forget when they learned about principle and sacrifice and doing the right thing from the city’s leaders who stood up for them, and stood up to the state and said, there’s no city without these kids, there’s no growth without our schools, there’s no reason for families to stay without a fully-funded education.

Burn these months into our kids’ memory. Have the courage to lead with your own action by meeting the $60 million request. Yes, ask for the sacrifices. Yes, demand the help.

Our kids won’t forget. We won’t forget.

Thank you.

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