YOUR STORY, "Mayoral candidate Anthony Hardy Williams in bed-literally-with fracking lobby," was wrong on so many levels I felt compelled to set things straight.
First, I expect you to challenge me about my record. As a candidate, I'm used to it. My only request is that you get it right. I support natural-gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale because it will generate revenue for Philadelphia and will create thousands of blue-collar jobs for workers who need a boost. And my record on environmental issues is unimpeachable, which is why I have a 100 percent rating from the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania.
However, while I expect to be in your spotlight, when you come after my wife, you cross the line. Beyond incorrectly calling her a lobbyist when she is a communications manager, you implied that her hiring was the result of a vote I took, which ignores her decades of communications experience in the energy field. And, by extension, you insulted all women in the workplace by suggesting that an experienced, talented woman needs a man's help to get a job.
My objection to your story is not about me, it's about my wife and all of the women in the workplace who have to face the kind of backward thinking you put on full display. It was sexist, insulting and offensive.
Women continue to face disgraceful obstacles in the workplace, like still fighting for equal pay for equal work. Philadelphia should be a leader on wage equality. As mayor, I will lead on this issue. I hope the Daily News will take a close look at the way in which it reports on women in the workplace.
Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams
Pa. 8th District
Charters: Being honest
In Karen Warrington's letter she asks us honest folk who oppose more charter schools to recognize that we are hurting educational opportunities for Philadelphians. I believe she herself is being disingenuous when she calls the flight from public schools a "choice" and when she doesn't even acknowledge that every new charter that opens takes money from the education of every public-school student left behind. Where is the choice in that?
In the spirit of honesty, I agree that there are a number of quality charter schools and that their supporters are genuine in their belief that their charter is a better choice than their local public school.
But is Ms. Warrington honest enough to agree that there has been no choice involved in the SRC's closure of dozens of public schools that were force-converted to charters? The only times parents were given a vote on whether to stay public or become charter, they voted to stay public. The SRC at least was honest with parents that time. They were told to choose to convert to a charter and they'd get extra money for their school or remain public and get nothing. We'll never know how parents at other converted charter schools would have chosen, because they had no choice.
Former SRC Chairman Bill Green chalked up this parental choice of public over charter schools to their ignorance and undue pressure from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. I guess, to him, only parents who choose charters are worthy of school choice. If he, Karen Warrington and other pro-charter voices were being honest, they would acknowledge that most Philadelphia charters are doing a worse job than public schools do and that most parents just want their kids to go to the local, fully-funded public school where they feel they have a stake in and a measure of control over their school. They want what every suburban parent takes for granted: a fully-funded, quality public school.
If we are all being honest about giving parents choices, then the SRC and the School District would provide free busing as they used to for public-school choice, a perk they now provide for charters, private and parochial schools. Why should a parent who chooses to send his child to one of the many quality Philadelphia public schools have to pay to provide transportation to school?
Ms. Warrington asks why we don't hear from parents on this issue. She questions why she only hears from teachers, the union, the administrators. It may be because she is not listening. Or, like Bill Green, she may simply be ignoring opinions she does not agree with.
I have seen not only parents but students at every rally for public schools I have attended the past few years. As an employee at a great Philadelphia public school, where my own three children attended, I hear every week from parents who want to get a child into our school. When I explain that at this point in the year they must go to their neighborhood school, they tell me there is none anymore, that it's now a charter school and they won't send their child there. Where is the choice for them? Who is listening to them?
If we were being honest, we would acknowledge that the loudest pro-charter voices are from those who either make their money off of charters or who are politicians beholden to those operators.
The only real choice that public-school parents have now is in their precious right to vote for the next mayor. I urge them to choose carefully and vote for the candidate who does not take money from rich charter school operators, the candidate who wants to fully and fairly fund public schools and the one committed to hold off opening any new money-draining charters until public schools are properly funded.