Key Point: “The bottom line: The issues that the city is facing are larger than the progress that we are making. The story of Philadelphia is often referred to as a tale of two cities: rich and poor, privileged and disadvantaged, progressive and backward. But there’s another contrast that marks the divide in the city: the positive progress that is being made contrasting the grim overall state of the poorest large city in America.”
Originally posted by the Inquirer Editorial Board on May 1, 2019
Objectively speaking, Philadelphia is making progress as a whole. The school district has doubled the number of high-performing schools and halved the number of low-performing schools; overall crime is down 11 percent in the past four years while the jail population is getting smaller; the region is adding jobs and outpacing the national trend; and major companies like Comcast have made Philadelphia their home.
But most voters will not be satisfied with the city’s advancements when they go to polls on May 21 — that’s one takeaway from The Inquirer and SurveyUSA poll of 865 voters. Overall, voters don’t feel that the city’s progress is impacting their lives: only 21 percent of voters responded that they are better off today and only 19 percent of voters said that their neighborhood is better off than they were four years ago. In fact, more voters said they were worse off — 29 percent said they themselves are and 35 percent said their neighborhood is worse off.
It is hard to reconcile the experience of voters living in Philadelphia with the stats and figures that are showing progress.
One very concrete area of disagreement is the performance of public schools. Five times as many voters think that Philadelphia public school are getting worse — 56 percent — than those who think the schools are getting better — 11 percent. That is in the face a three consecutive years in which school performance has been increasing.
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