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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Are the financial problems of Philadelphia schools driving families away?  Residents think so, according to a new poll.

Forty-eight percent of respondents in the new survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts said they believed the state of the financially beleaguered Philadelphia schools system would force families to look for other educational options, such as private schools, religious schools, or charters.

Pew project director Larry Eichel says 23 percent of respondents indicated it would force families to leave the city altogether.

“If they see the public school system as not a viable option for them, it makes it much harder for them to stay,” Eichel told KYW Newsradio in an interview given in advance of the report’s release.  “It really tests their commitment to the city.”

Only 18 percent believed Philadelphia schools were doing a “good” or “excellent” job.  Seventy-eight percent said schools were “fair” or “poor.”

Eichel says it’s the lowest approval rating in the five years that Pew has been polling on the topic of city schools.

“There’s a very clear trend line, a much higher percentage of people giving a negative grade to the  schools,” he says, “(and) a lower percentage of people giving a positive grade to them.”

Who’s to blame?  It’s a tie.   Thirty-one percent said Mayor Nutter and City Council were responsible for the current condition of Philadelphia schools, another 31 percent said Governor Corbett and the state legislature were.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds — 64 percent — said charter schools improve education options, while 26 percent say they drain money from traditional public schools.

The full report is at pewtrusts.org.

Read the KYW Regional Affairs Council special report, “Class Action: Making Schools Safe


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