Nutter to sum up 8-year effort to boost education outcomes in Tuesday speech
By Kevin McCorry for WHYY/NewsWorks on Oct 26, 2015 07:28 PM
Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter set an ambitious agenda for schools in his 2008 inauguration speech, promising to cut in half the number of dropouts while doubling the number of Philadelphians who hold college degrees — both by 2015.
"I'm asking you to join me in the greatest American city turnaround that anyone has seen in the last 50 years. Ladies and gentlemen, I've laid out for you: This is the new Philadelphia," said Nutter during that speech.
Nutter will reflect on public education and how much progress his administration made toward those goals during a keynote speech at 11 a.m. Tuesday at WHYY.
To meet those goals, the city would have needed to cut the dropout rate from 29 percent to 14.5 percent, and raise the proportion of Philadelphians holding college degrees from 21 percent to 42 percent.
Soon after Nutter made these pledges, the worldwide financial crisis hit. The city budget was slashed, and before long, Tom Corbett was elected governor with a mandate for austerity.
Through Nutter's years, the state's share of Philly school funding has substantially dwindled while city taxpayers have been pushed to make up the difference.
Despite the sluggish economy, Nutter did not backtrack on his promise.
"The mayor is not in charge, directly in charge, of public schools, and certainly not in charge of higher education, but I thought that setting goals, giving people something to reach for that, in my view, was doable — and I thought could be accomplished — was important," Nutter explained during a sit-down interview in his office last week.
So how did it turn out?
Progress was made across the board. The dropout rate fell, and the number of Philadelphians with four-year college degrees has risen, but nowhere near the levels that Nutter had hoped.