Allyson Schwartz' solution to SDP funding problem is to sell art collection. What a joke. #phillyeducation
— Jeremy Julien (@senorjulien) October 30, 2013
Late last week, Representative Allyson Schwartz made an education funding gaffe that flew under the radar. The democratic gubernatorial front-runner urged the Philadelphia School District to sell their multi-million dollar art collection to make the school district’s growing budget shortfall feel a wee bit better. Philly.com reported:
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz urged the School District of Philadelphia on Wednesday to auction off its artwork collection in a bid to reduce the system’s growing budget shortfall.
This idea is so radical that even the state ran School Reform Commission rejected the notion.
The state-run School Reform Commission two weeks ago rejected a resolution to auction off some of the district’s 1,100 artworks, the most valuable of which are sitting in a storage facility in an undisclosed location.
But Representative Schwartz thinks otherwise.
“Philadelphia’s students, families and teachers deserve every available dollar to be put toward classroom learning,” Schwartz said. “It is unreasonable for the district to hold on to artwork that could be worth millions while schools don’t have nurses, students lack books, and teachers face layoffs. Selling the district’s vast collection of artwork is only one step toward solving the budget crisis facing Philadelphia public schools, but it is an action that should be taken immediately in light of the serious fiscal issues.”
“Right now, the district doesn’t even know how much this art is worth and where it is all stored,” Schwartz said. “This lack of oversight and accountability is unacceptable. It is time to do the right thing for Philadelphia’s students.”
Even Michigan’s Tea Party, Governor Rick Snyder, hasn’t openly endorsed selling Detroit’s art collection as a means to fix that city’s budget shortfalls.
Speculation over whether the state, which currently controls the city’s finances, will sell any DIA assets has been ongoing for months. It recently escalated following Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr hiring Christie’s Appraisals, Inc. to determine the value of the city-owned art collection.
The appraisal, according to Snyder, is part of the bankruptcy process.
“No one should assume there’s a sale just because it’s being appraised,” he told MLive following a speech Wednesday at the 2013 Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars. “Essentially, part of the fiduciary responsibility of going through this process is you need to appraise the assets of the city.”
In all honesty, Allyson Schwartz’s idea to sell one of the school district’s only tangible asset in such bad times is short-sighted and misguided because it does nothing to change Governor Corbett’s feeling towards funding public education nor does it come close for fully funding the Philadelphia School District. Parent and education activist Helen Gym stated:
“I don’t think it’s a great idea,” Gym said. “I think that the art is one of the few assets that the district has. Dumping it in a last-ditch fire sale in which the money is likely to go straight into debt service and charter schools has got to be thought through pretty carefully. I don’t know that it really does a lot to achieve what we’re trying to achieve, which is significant funding equity.”
“We need to think about things in a little bit more of a strategic manner and be cognizant of what we’re trying to accomplish here,” she said. “I don’t think we have had a clear assessment of the district’s assets, and that includes the art.”