This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
The Philadelphia teachers’ union is taking a shot at Mayor Nutter with a new ad campaign.
The group’s TV, radio, newspaper and online advertisements tie Nutter, a Democrat, to Gov. Corbett, a Republican, who has been knocked for cutting schools funding in past years.
"You’ve sided with Gov. Corbett, against my kids, against their teachers," says public school parent and activist Kia Hinton of Nutter in the radio ad. "You’ve let us down. You’ve been starving our kids of the education they deserve."
These ads come in the midst of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers contract negotiations with the School Reform Commission. The SRC and Superintendent William Hite are asking teachers to accept pay and benefit cuts in order to help shore up the School District’s budget.
A voice-over in the PFT’s radio spot says, "Over the past three years, Mayor Nutter has stood with Gov. Corbett as he gutted funding for Philadelphia’s public schools, putting kids’ safety at risk, overcrowding classrooms."
Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said there is no truth to the ad’s characterization of Nutter. He said the mayor is fighting tooth and nail for the city’s schoolchildren.
"I think the ad is unfair and inaccurate, and is union propaganda," he said. "I understand why they might want to put something out like that. It would take the public’s collective eye off the ball. The ball, by the way, is in the negotiations at the bargaining table between the SRC and the teachers’ union."
McDonald pointed out that Nutter has signed property and use-and-occupancy tax hikes into law to raise money for the Philadelphia School District. He has also proposed a soda tax and a liquor-by-the-drink tax increase, which were both shot down by City Council, as well as a cigarette tax, which Council passed but Harrisburg rejected.
The Corbett administration, meanwhile, has said that the state is making historic investments in education. Corbett argues that most of the school cuts occurred in past years as a result of federal stimulus money drying up.