The Problem in Philadelphia Schools

WatchNews Coverage


We know that school funding inequities exist in Pennsylvania. I’ve seen it firsthand in my senatorial district.

Back in 2017, a group of fourth graders from Lewis Cassidy Academics Plus Elementary School in Overbrook opened our eyes to the impact the funding inequities and toxic schools are having on their education.

Cassidy fourth-grader Chelsea Mungo recently wrote to me about the need to fund schools, asking “Why does the color of the students’ skin matter how much money we get for our school?” Cassidy students also visited me at the Capitol as part of the Young Heroes Outreach Program; in return, I visited their school to address their concern. The School District of Philadelphia has since identified Cassidy as a candidate for a new building, which is expected in the near future. But what do we do for children there now?

Children are learning in buildings contaminated with lead, asbestos and mold, rodents, and learning from outdated textbooks. Meanwhile, students in other districts have health, safe school buildings where they have access the latest technologies to bolster their educations. Our children deserve better.

The video below was made by a group of students at Cassidy back in 2017. They showed the video at their school assembly to encourage their classmates and teachers to take action and make the school better. Help share the message about Cassidy! Every student deserves a quality education no matter where they live!

Philadelphia Inquirer Investigation

Philadelphia’s toxic schools

by Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane - WHYY

Last year, a Philadelphia Inquirer investigation revealed a shocking number of health hazards in Philadelphia public schools which included dangerously high levels of lead paint, asbestos, and mold. The investigation was a finalist in the 2019 Pulitzer Prizes and received several other prestigious awards. Journalists BARBARA LAKER and WENDY RUDERMAN join us to discuss their investigation and the updates have taken place since the story first broke along with DANIELLE FLOYD of the Philadelphia School District to share the district’s response. Learn more at

Lead in school drinking water could be worse than we know

A recent test showed extremely high levels of lead at Frederick Douglass Elementary School in North Philadelphia, but officials didn’t tell parents until reporters with WHYY’s Keystone Crossroads and PlanPhilly started asking. It turns out the school probably isn’t alone, but Avi Wolfman-Arent and Ryan Briggs explain why it’s hard to say just how many other older school buildings in the region could have similar serious problems with their water. Learn more at

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Asbestos shuts down Ben Franklin/SLA school building

Damaged asbestos discovered within the shared campus of Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy will shut down the building for at least two days, officials said Monday night. In an email to staff and families, Danielle Floyd, the Philadelphia...

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Wolf pledges millions to tackle lead paint in city schools

Gov. Wolf on Friday said he was directing state funds to begin a $15.7 million emergency cleanup at some of Philadelphia's most rundown schools. Of that, $7.6 million will come from state coffers and go toward repairing deteriorating lead paint at up to 40 schools, a...

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Fix unsafe conditions inside Philly schools, new group says

Banding together to address what they say are "unacceptable" conditions inside many Philadelphia schools, a broad coalition of parents, environmental advocates, City Council members, and labor unions on Wednesday announced it had formed to partner with and pressure...

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