Last Thursday the Philadelphia Republican Party held the December installment of its monthly breakfast-speaker series. This month’s guest speaker was ROBERT WONDERLING, the President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is engaged in economic development and advocating for business-friendly public policy. The organization has approximately 5,000 members from the 11 counties in the Philadelphia area.
Wonderling was a Pennsylvania State Senator from 2002 to 2009. In the State Senate he was the Chairman of the Transportation Committee, where he was instrumental in drafting transportation infrastructure legislation, the precursor of the recently enacted transportation funding bill that will raise roughly $2.5 billion for much-needed road and bridge repairs. Passage of this bill was a priority for the Chamber as Wonderling noted businesses will not come to a state where they have problems moving their products.
This week there was a changing of the guard at the Philadelphia Bar Association. WILLIAM FEDULLO replaced outgoing CHANCELLOR KATHLEEN WILKINSON. His inaugural address made it sound like he was be sworn in as a City Councilman and not as the head of the Bar Association. In my mind, the Bar Association’s role is to set and monitor standards for lawyers. In its own words, “It is a keystone for the ongoing developments of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania legal systems.”
Fedullo, however, spent a good part of his speech discussing the need for additional funding for the Philadelphia School District. He also discussed additional revenue sources for the schools, including taxation on hydraulic fracturing. He insinuated the underfunding of the schools fosters racial inequality. Yes, he is right that our underperforming schools impact minorities more. But is that because of a lack of funding? Or is it owing to a school system with procedures that protect underperforming teachers? A school system that spends money on the maintenance and administration under-capacity schools? The solution to our underperforming schools is not to throw more money at a dysfunctional system. Fedullo appeared to be suggesting the Bar Association advocate for his views. He is entitled to his opinions, but I know many members of the bar that would not only disagree with opinions on school funding, but also would take issue with public-policy advocacy that is not more directly related to the legal profession.
This week the State House of Representatives sent to the State Senate a bill that would require prospective teachers and other school workers to be drug-tested prior to employment. The immediate response by the ACLU is the testing was unnecessarily invasive. I have no problem with the State requiring public-school districts to require drug tests – especially in light of the fact every school district in the Commonwealth receives state funding. Has anyone at the ACLU had a real private-sector job? If they have, then they would more than likely been tested for drugs prior to employment. If the prospective teacher finds the test invasive, then they could find employment elsewhere. Making sure the people who teach our children do not use banned substances should not be so controversial. Ask the parents of this children what they think. More than likely, they might be surprised testing was already being done, as they themselves were probably drug-tested before being hired.