School funding isn't what I want to talk about, though. I want to talk about the words that we use when we talking about government. Whether you want to admit it or not, the specific words you use are important. They have implied and concrete meanings that we may not always think about when we speak, but we should. I'd like to focus on one specific sentence:
"It's time for the state to help us out."No, it's not. The state doesn't need to help you. The state needs to fulfill its obligations, in this case, to the children of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania at large.
"The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth." - Article III, Sec 14, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ConstitutionThe government, be it federal, state, or local, does not "help", "hand out", or "give". What the government does or does not do is to fulfill its obligations to its citizens. We have got to stop saying that the government needs to "help" us and we have to call out that language when we hear other people using it. The government isn't doing us a favor, it's operating the way it's supposed to (or, in this case isn't).
I know this language all too well. I try very hard not to use it when I'm talking about my spouse doing chores around the house. He's not helping me, by doing his share around the house. He lives in our home as much as I do and we're both equally put-upon during our day to accomplish things other than housework. When he takes out the garbage he isn't doing me a favor, he's doing something that we agreed would be his particular purview. The same logic applies in government.
The state doesn't need to do Philadelphia a favor. The state needs to step up and get something done because our government is failing our children right now. School funding isn't the only place this applies, though. "Help" language gets used all the time for every kind of funding imaginable. Don't do it. Don't treat our legislators like they're giving us some sort of special treatment any time they deign to fulfill their obligations to us. Saying that we need their help gives them the rhetorical option of not helping. Hold them responsible. Tell them that it's time to do their job and we will accept nothing less.