This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
The Philadelphia School District’s financial woes appear to have badly bruised its reputation, according to a new survey released by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Fifty-two percent of the poll’s respondents graded the public school system "poor," up from 35 percent last year. Only 18 percent deemed it "good" or "excellent."
"This is the lowest positive rating for the schools in the five years that Pew has been polling on this topic," said Larry Eichel, a director of Pew’s Philadelphia program. "It seems to me that this funding crisis has gotten more attention and has been generally seen as a more significant event than some of [the School District’s budget problems] in the past."
Forty-eight percent of residents polled said they would not endorse Philadelphia as a place to raise kids.
Young adults, who Eichel said helped power the city’s population boom in recent years, had an even more negative outlook. Fifty-five percent would not recommend Philadelphia for child-rearing. Eichel said their low opinion could potentially slow the growth of Philadelphia.
"That’s one of the messages, I think, that comes out this poll," he said. "Young adults, in particular, are very concerned about the school system."
As for independently-run charter schools, almost two-thirds of residents said they see them as a positive force in the city. Twenty-six percent said they lack oversight and siphon taxpayer money from public schools.
More than one-third of respondents said they would definitely or probably leave the city in the next five to 10 years. The top reasons cited were concerns about jobs (29 percent), crime and safety (25 percent), and child-raising and schooling issues (23 percent).
Of the respondents’ main concerns, Rutgers University political science professor Cliff Zukin said, "It really does put on the table an agenda for the city."
The longtime pollster, along with Abt SRBI Public Affairs, helped design and conduct the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.