By Mike DeNardo


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The US secretary of education, visiting Philadelphia, said today that the city’s public schools are “desperately underfunded” but there’s not much he can do to change that.

“The children of Philly deserve better,” said secretary of education Arne Duncan (center of photo) at a Community College of Philadelphia roundtable on how young men of color can achieve.

With Mayor Nutter at his side, Duncan listened to a dozen young men describe schools with no counselors and no extracurricular activities.

Afterward, Duncan called on the state legislature to adopt a cigarette tax to help fund Philadelphia schools.

“There’s a chance for the state to do the right thing for children here in Philadelphia and around the state,” he said.  “We absolutely hope the state takes that responsibility seriously, and does better than what they have in the past.”

Duncan said he didn’t know of a school district in the nation that had more unmet need than Philadelphia.

But because funding education is largely a state and local responsibility, he said, the best he could do from the federal perspective is to add his voice to the cause.


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