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Green Party's suggestions for the Philadelphia schools

By Guest blogger on May 22, 2012 01:13 PM

This guest blog post  comes from the Green Party of Philadelphia, which recently outlined a proposal for the Philadelphia public schools.


The Green Party of Philadelphia recognizes that Philadelphia’s public schools are facing a crisis. Philadelphia has the eighth-largest school district in the nation by enrollment, with 154,482 students in 257 schools. This number includes privately managed and alternative education schools. There are 40,483 students enrolled in 74 charter schools. Additionally, Philadelphia is the only county in Pennsylvania that does not have an elected school board.

A great challenge is now facing the people of Philadelphia: to educate ourselves to build a just, sustainable, humane, and democratic future, and to become responsible and effective citizens of the local and global communities we share. The Green Party believes every child deserves a public education that fosters critical and holistic thought, and provides the breadth and depth of learning necessary to become an active citizen and a constructive member of society.

The Green Party sees two important tasks before us to reach this objective. The first task is to reorganize Philadelphia’s school system under the democratic control of its students, parents, and teachers. A new Philadelphia school board should be democratically elected by Philadelphia’s voters. To prevent a takeover by corporate interests, our school board elections must be publicly funded and must use instant run-off voting. In addition, students and teachers should have their own elected representatives on our new school board.

The Green Party is unalterably opposed to the dissolution of public schools and the privatization of education. Therefore, our second task is to end all attempts to privatize education, which have been sweeping Philadelphia under the direction of the School Reform Commission and its appointed superintendents. We maintain that public education is a public responsibility and that all relevant decisions must be made by community stakeholders and their representatives. We oppose all schemes for corporations to pursue private profits at the expense of public schools and their students and teachers. Studies have shown that privatized schools cost more to run and do not provide an educational benefit to the students.

There are two additional reforms that will lead to a better education for Philadelphia’s public school students. The most important will be an equalization of educational resources. The most effective reform plan is useless without the money to implement it, and this has been felt in the most basic reforms, such as hiring teachers to decrease class sizes. Right now, Philadelphia’s schools are handicapped by a discriminatory funding system, which awards more money for the education of wealthy students and much less money for the education of poor students. The School District of Philadelphia spent $13,272.40 per pupil in 2010. For comparison, the Lower Merion School District spent $26,570.76 per pupil in 2010, the highest in the state. We want to see this discriminatory funding challenged in court, unless it is changed by the General Assembly.

The second reform that will lead to improved education is to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Too many of Philadelphia’s students fail to graduate from high school. Instead, too many of them go straight to jail. The Green Party agrees with the American Civil Liberties Union: “Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out. ‘Zero-tolerance’ policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while high-stakes testing programs encourage educators to push out low-performing students to improve their schools' overall test scores. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline.”

In conclusion, the Green Party holds that those who are interested in educational reform must recognize that our children are not learning in a vacuum. In order to have a truly successful educational system, we will ultimately need broad societal reform: an end to hunger in Philadelphia; living-wage jobs for our children when they graduate; real political empowerment and opportunities for civic engagement; affordable housing; and single-payer health care. The Green Party is the only political party working to achieve all these policies.

For more information about the Green Party of Philadelphia, please contact 215-243-7103 and gpop@gpop.org.


The guest blog section is a place for people who aren't part of our regular cast of bloggers to share their views. (See our "About Our Blog" note at the top, right.) Got something you'd like to write about? Email us with a pitch, idea, or a completed post.

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Comments (15)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 22, 2012 6:24 pm

dope

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 22, 2012 8:37 pm

Why is this person a dope? You must not be a teacher because whoever posted this is exactly right. I teach in the SDP and my school doesn't even have a counselor. Our morale is so low it is sad. We do everything possible to help our students learn....it is almost impossible with 32 students in a class. Classes where one student can't even read and another is reading far above grade level. Special education students that aren't being serviced because we don't have enough teachers. Emotionally disturbed students being sent to us, but not service in the school to help them. It is so sad. How does Corbett sleep at night?

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on May 22, 2012 10:08 pm

As a parent and future teacher, I agree too!! Love this! And thank you for caring about your students! Despite all the problems the most important person to your students is you!! Keep your chin up, good teachers are what students remember, not resources ok?? You as a person make their educational experience better.

: )

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 22, 2012 11:27 pm

i meant "dope" as in "this is dope" as in "this is cool"

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on May 22, 2012 8:23 pm

An elected school board in this school is an absolute must because the SRC is not accountable to the citizens of Philadelphia.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 23, 2012 3:57 pm

A publicly elected school board seems like a good idea, but the current problem we have in the SDP is that whoever runs it is subject to the unbelievably strong political winds that blow across this city and state. If Board of Education members had to try to manage those forces as well as try to keep their eye on re-election, they'd never get anything done, even if the elections were funded with public money (another idea that sounds good, but even if we could justify diverting even more public money away from the education of our students and into some election fund, how could that possibly be managed fairly and well?!) In the end, we can solve the majority of these problems as an electorate under the current system by being more selective of who we choose as Mayor and, especially in this case, Governor.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on May 22, 2012 9:56 pm

"Equalization of educational resources" means that Philadelphia will have to find an additional way to fund education along with the existing real estate and school taxes. Not impossible, how about some of that extra sales tax?

The schools that spend the most per child within the District, are the ones with the student behavior challenges. Evidence Central H.S. with $5,555 per child vs Roxborough H.S. with $12,100 per child. For the behavior challenges, we should be looking at models like the Academy in Manayunk which is heavily arts based and for special needs children. Why not have a few schools like this instead of the discipline schools? There's no reason, the PSD can't seek grant funding to do this.

We need to be careful of "equalization", because then we try and level all children to some middle ground with standard needs rather than addressing their uniqueness or real needs.

Submitted by anon (not verified) on May 22, 2012 10:29 pm

this platform works for me and so the green party will get my vote in november. sounds like it's straight from jerry jordon's talking points, so why wouldn't we encourage them. teachers need to get behind someone who's speaking our language & by doing so, force the democratic party to move back towards our corner. the way things stand now, the pft/aft throwing its endorsement to politicians like obama & nutter ain't worth spit for all they do for us. our votes are taken for granted & we get policies like "race to the top" and "great schools compact" shoved down our throats for our reward. thanks for nothing.
we could learn some tactics from the tea party on how to effectively bend politicians to do your will.

Submitted by Phantom Poster (not verified) on May 22, 2012 11:49 pm

Sounds pretty rational - and a lot less radical than what the carpetbaggers are proposing.

Submitted by MacMaven (not verified) on May 23, 2012 6:50 am

How do we find more information about this Green Party of Philadelphia? Their website is still under construction.

Submitted by Ross (not verified) on May 23, 2012 5:22 pm

Their website is http://gpop.org - and they have an open to the public meeting tomorrow in Roxborough. Here's the info for that:

Greens to Meet

Thursday, May 24

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Dream House Asian Bistro,
www.dream-house-asian-bistro.com

6127 Ridge Avenue in Roxborough
(Easily accessible via SEPTA’s 27 Bus and 9 Bus. Free parking on Dupont Street , off Ridge Avenue .)
Philadelphia, PA 19128
215-243-7103 and gpop@gpop.org

http://www.gpop.org/news/?p=998

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 23, 2012 8:31 am

I'll get behind a platform like this any day! It's time for the pols like Dwight Evans and Anthony Williams to go! I'll support anyone who is GENUINELY interested in Philly's kids. I'm with you Green Party!

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 23, 2012 8:33 am

It is very interesting to see the "Imperative of Democracy" rise and be recognized and embraced by so many people.

In the eye of my English teacher's mind I see a smoking battlefield in a pasture near the top of a hill. Out of the smoke and the fog and the ashes and the litter strewn across the darkened fields, I see an American flag posted in the soil near the top of the hill with the evening sun streaking through the clouds illuminating our flag as it glitters in the golden light. Behind it all standing on top of the hill I see, in all of Our diversity, a bunch of our students with their parents and teachers and clergymen, glaring back down the hill in triumph while the outsiders who invaded our community like vultures upon a prey lie strewn across those fields of truth....

I see the faces in the sky behind them of all the concerned citizens and "good people" I have had the good fortune to meet and see and learn about in the past few years....

And then I think again of the "Imperative of Our Democracy."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 23, 2012 9:50 am

As a teacher in the PSD and a registered Green I urge all of my colleagues to support this plan and platform. We as a Union have been abandoned by the deomcrat-led power structure in this city. It is time to fight back on all fronts. No more selling our kids to prisons, these are all our children and they are not for profit.

Submitted by Chris Robinson, Green Party (not verified) on May 23, 2012 6:04 pm

Let's work together. If you would like more information about the Green Party of Philadelphia, please visit www.gpop.org, or contact 215-243-7103 and gpop@gpop.org. Peace, Chris Robinson, GPOP City Committee.

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