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PFT releases new ads, poll on education issues

New ad and poll are critical of Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett, claims “they failed to lead.”

THE PHILADELPHIA Federation of Teachers hasn't just been busy at the negotiating table lately - today, the union is expected to release two new ads, one of which attacks Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett because they "failed to lead" in the school-funding crisis.

The commercial, paid for by the PFT, shows a montage of school scenes, including a teacher walking down a hallway with students and kids sitting in a classroom.

"Facing overcrowded classrooms in unsafe schools, parents and teachers have offered real sacrifices and real solutions," the female narrator says.

"But Gov. Corbett and Mayor Nutter, they failed to provide the funding the schools need. They failed to lead. Failed our kids," she says. The commercial urges viewers, "tell Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett [to] stop cutting funding for our schools now."

The message didn't sit well with mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald.

"It is simply not true that the mayor has cut funding to the schools," he said, adding that under the legislation that placed the district in the state's control, "the local jurisdiction can't reduce its funding commitment."

There have been two property-tax increases and one business tax increase in the past two years, McDonald said. He said each year since mid-2011, the administration has added an additional $155 million in tax revenue to fund schools.

In addition to the ads, the American Federation of Teachers commissioned a poll - the results of which were released Monday - that found voters are increasingly dissatisfied with Nutter and his handling of public education.

The poll was conducted by Guy Molyneux, of Hart Research, and asked questions of 100 registered voters in the city.

Sixty-five percent of voters said they were "dissatisfied" with Nutter's education performance, while 30 percent reported being satisfied. Those numbers shifted from May, when 39 percent of voters were satisfied with the mayor's handling of the schools and 54 percent were dissatisfied.

Corbett didn't fare any better - his negativity rating in Philadelphia is 48 percent, while the mayor's is 46 percent.

In response to the poll, McDonald said, "I think it's rather strange and unfortunate that, with an expired contract, the PFT is spending a lot of time, spending a lot of money, on things that are not related to negotiations."

Bargaining over the PFT's contract, which expired over the weekend, continued yesterday. As of last night, the union and school district had made no further progress in negotiations.