SRC stepped up to the plate
To the editors:
Today, many parents in our city aren’t sending their children to neighborhood schools. They’re sending their kids to schools miles away from home, like I did, in search of the quality education that they deserve. As a result, they sacrifice countless hours they could be studying or spending time with family.
Why do parents go through the trouble? Because too many schools in our community are not getting the job done. The achievement gap is particularly pronounced for students of color, who are almost 20 percentage points less likely to read or do math on grade level than their white peers. Commissioner [Sylvia] Simms understands that achievement and understands that too many children of color aren’t getting education that will take them to be productive citizens. I thank her and the other members of the School Reform Commission who chose to stand up and say that Wister Elementary may need something different.
It is important that a learning environment is established from this process that can cater to the needs of many students. There also needs to be a school equipped to understand the needs of the community and the importance of having a school with a great quality of education; otherwise many will fall through the cracks, like in a lot of North Philly schools.
Let’s give the SRC a hand for stepping up to the plate.
The writer is the mother of five and lives in Philadelphia.
Democracy essential to District
Response to Jan. 15 article “Pew report comparing state, local school governance sees no clear winner” by Dale Mezzacappa.
I am a strong and vocal advocate for democracy in education in Philadelphia, our state, and our nation. In my book Whose School Is it? The Democratic Imperative for Our Schools, my primary conclusion was: “For us to create ‘The Great American School’ for all of our children, we must govern and lead our schools upon the very same principles and ideals as set forth in our U.S. Constitution.”
Pew is one of the few organizations putting out credible research on education and school governance. Its brief provides relevant information on which cities have elected school boards and which do not. It also provides much food for thought and debate.This brief came out the week before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. I find it ironic that in Philadelphia and a few other large cities, the citizens and taxpayers “do not have the right to vote” for school board members.
In the birthplace of American democracy, we have the least democratically governed school district in America.
Abolishing the School Reform Commission – making the school board elected – is the essential question of school governance. It is time now to put that question squarely before us on the table of public debate.
Democracy is the purification process for the ills that plague our schools. It is also the “sine qua non” – or critical ingredient – for greatness in our schools.
Democracy is the only way to make our leaders “accountable to the people of Philadelphia.”
The writer is a retired School District administrator, an attorney, and author of “Whose School Is It? The Democratic Imperative for Our Schools.”