This guest blog post comes from Notebook board member and June 12 event committee member Nina Moreno.
Sixteen months ago, I moved to Philadelphia after a five-year work stint at the Children’s Defense Fund. I was familiar with Philadelphia’s school-to-prison pipeline because I had spent countless hours researching, writing, and presenting on America’s cradle-to-prison pipeline during my time at CDF.
While a lack of government transparency around the school-to-prison pipeline has been commonplace, robust movements advocating for the exact opposite have been less prevalent. Since 1994, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook has been envisioning a one-track education system for all children, believing that public education can fulfill its promise of promoting democracy and social justice, and promoting public involvement in Philadelphia’s public schools and educational change in the city at large.
In recent years, the Notebook has been providing relentless coverage of the School District’s efforts to turn around some of its lowest-performing schools and the April 2012 “blueprint” to radically transform Philadelphia’s public education by closing dozens of schools, expanding charters, and reorganizing the School District into decentralized “achievement networks” run primarily by private entities.
Perhaps the wildest piece of information related to the coverage that the Notebook provides is that it is only made possible through foundation funding like grants, the sale of advertisements, and of course, through the support of individuals like me. That’s why I am attending the Notebook’s annual fundraising celebration, “Turning the Page for Change: Strength in Community” on Tuesday, June 12. Will you join me?
School turnaround and public education privatization efforts are not unique to Philadelphia. Other communities experiencing similar trends should look to the case of Philadelphia to see how these plans have panned out and how local movements are addressing such trajectories. Without the Notebook, the level of transparency necessary for democracy and justice to prevail in the Philadelphia public school system would not exist and the public’s involvement in fighting for quality and equality in Philadelphia’s public schools would be very different.