I have a daughter in a public school, so I relate to the school district as a parent, as well as a candidate. Although Philadelphia has some excellent public schools, every day, many families leave the city because most schools are inadequate.

In the last four years, a new CEO was hired, and test scores have begun to move upward. Thanks to the additional state money from the 2002 state takeover, construction projects have begun on some schools. Yet, it is increasing clear that the district continues to struggle financially. In addition, safety has become a serious problem, and class sizes are still rising.

My "Putting Children First" plan for responsible reform of public education starts with two basic commitments. As mayor, I will:

1. Lead the fight for fair funding of public education in Harrisburg. Thirty years ago, Pennsylvania paid 55 percent of local education costs. Today the state's share is 36 percent. I will work for a new funding formula.

2. Focus on proven reforms and implement them throughout the School District:

Reduce class size in all schools.

Improve safety by creating a safety zone for students and teachers.

Increase early childhood education.

Expand programs to retain good teachers and principals, including coaching.

Provide more choices to more high school students, including early college access.

Make it easier for parents to get involved.