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As time runs out, Philly public school parents send open letter to legislators

By the Notebook on Jun 30, 2013 02:11 PM

The following open letter, signed by about 600 Philadelphia public school parents and taxpayers, was sent to Pennsylvania state legislators over the weekend and posted on the Facebook page of the organization Imagine a School.

We urge you to VOTE YES on ANY measures for EMERGENCY funding to school districts in Pennsylvania, including the School District of Philadelphia, for FY 2013-14.

We realize that you may not be familiar personally with Philadelphia -- our city, our schools, and our children -- and that you may have been exposed to negative and sensationalized media stories and to commentators who describe our city as a "rat hole" and a "cesspool." The reality is that we work, pay taxes and support our children -- just as families do in your home districts. We have chosen to invest our families' futures in the State of Pennsylvania and in a city that we love, and to send our children to public schools that we know firsthand to be great.
We ask you to consider our schools and our children as WE know them. We are parents with skin in the game.

Our magnet high schools graduate nearly every student, and almost every graduate attends a post-secondary school. This year, Central High School's graduating class attracted tens of millions of dollars in college scholarships and $230K in alumni awards. But you will not hear about CHS, or our other excellent schools like Masterman HS, Girls High, or CAPA, our performing arts high school, on the news.

Yes, our children face neighborhood challenges of poverty, discrimination and violence -- and still many succeed, because our schools and our community help them to succeed. But the state's proposed budget will eliminate from schools the very supports that help children overcome these difficulties -- reading, math and language help, music, sports, art, and guidance counselors. How will first-generation students realize their dreams of attending college with no school activities and zero counselors to assist their applications?

The reality we know as parents is that our schools and families have risen mightily to the challenges, and our children's performance has been rising over the past few years. But the proposed state budget will ERASE all of our hard-won progress in the blink of an eye.

For example, in West Philadelphia, Powel Elementary, a recently high-performing school of 216 students, will lose 12 teachers and its ESOL teacher, all support staff, learning intervention and gifted support, all extra-curricular activities, and even funds for books and supplies. Class sizes will balloon past our worst previous levels. Many elementary schools that had been succeeding despite neighborhood poverty will be forced this September -- along with the children enrolled in them -- into conditions that will induce failure.

After working hard as families and as a community, and AS PENNSYLVANIA TAXPAYERS, WE ARE DEVASTATED. We entrusted our families' futures to Pennsylvania, and its legislators are about to fail that trust, to set innocent children up to fail. WHY? We ask you to do the same for our children that you would do for your own -- provide resources for safe, supportive learning environments for talented children who desperately want to learn, and to succeed.

Long-term education reform is in the works, but children cannot wait -- they will walk into inadequate and unsafe schools in TEN WEEKS. Children who are learning to read and to count, who are dreaming of college, are unaware of political rhetoric or ideology. OUR CHILDREN ARE PENNSYLVANIA'S CHILDREN. They deserve the BIPARTISAN SUPPORT OF ALL THOSE CHARGED WITH UPHOLDING EVERY CHILD'S RIGHT TO AN ADEQUATE EDUCATION. And they need it now.

We ask all elected senators and representatives to vote YES on ANY AVAILABLE EMERGENCY MEASURES TO FUND OUR STATE'S SCHOOLS -- and on cigarette tax enabling legislation so that we as Philadelphians have the right to tax ourselves on behalf of our own children. And as state taxpayers we ask that you delay planned corporate tax cuts in favor of children.


We thank you for your consideration.


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Comments (14)

Submitted by fate (not verified) on June 30, 2013 4:57 pm
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 5:55 pm
The SRC has been following the script of the Broad Foundation where Hite was educated in corporate education deform at the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2005.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:29 pm
Anonymous - Folks like Eli Broad and ALEC are upfront with you. You know who they are and their agenda. It isn't hidden. Be aware of limousine liberals. Their agenda is hidden. IMHO, they are worse than the Eli Broad's of this world.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:24 pm
If the Broad Foundation is so transparent why didn't Arlene Ackerman say she was on the board of the Broad Foundation WHILE she was Superintendent of Schools in Philadelphia?
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:54 pm
Yes Eli is very honest about what he wants to do. I read the article he wrote in Ed Week where he advised, "Never give up an opportunity to create churn." That is what he said. That was the main idea of the article: Create churn at every opportunity -- So you can wear down resistance.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:31 pm
I just read an article saying that governor Corbett and the city will be able to fund the school district with the requested funds needed. The only missing funds would be the concessions by the unions. As a parent of three public school students our letter writing and protest should be directed towards these unions. If no money is forthcoming, we all know where our anger should be focused.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:04 pm
This has been a paid commercial announcement from Mark Gleason.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:28 pm
The PFT offered up over $30 million in concessions 18 months ago, we were the FIRST to offer concessions and took a pay freeze for eighteen months as well.. That is not counting the hundreds and thousands we teachers spend each year to buy your kids tokens, clothes, health care, pens, papers and everything else that you can not, or will not, provide your own children with (not counting the expensive cell phones and ipods, that is). We pay the same taxes you pay and have families of our own to provide for.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:01 pm
If Mark Gleason has three children in the school district, then Yea this is a commercial from Mark Gleason !
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 10:44 pm
The sentiments are like his, not a real Philly school parent's. Philly parents know the teacher's working conditions are their child's learning conditions.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:51 pm
I guarantee, there are real Philly school children parents waiting for the unions to help save this school year. The governor did his part, the city is doing their part, it's time for the unions to put up or shut up !
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:12 pm
The Governor did his part? LOL You are obviously not from Philadelphia and could care less about the fate of Philadelphia's school children. You really think Philadelphia parents want under paid, over worked, insecure teachers for their children. Go back where you came from and find someone else to leach off of! And take the rest of the Philadelphia School Partnership with you!
Submitted by Philadelphia Parent (not verified) on July 1, 2013 11:34 am
Don't Mourn: Organize! Let's find ways to build coalitions to get these backward corporate hacks and their political servants out of our state. Corbett has to go; so too all local and state politicians who are jeopardizing our children's future. Know that Corbett's strategy is weak and cynical: he hopes to get us all riled up about the teacher's union so that they can continue to bleed our state dry, demolishing public education, our roads and mass transit system. Our state, and the nation, have gone mad with mindless greed due to an overidentification with corporate mentality. None of us is a corporation: our corporations don't have to breathe the air, drive on our roads, educate children. Corporations are just organizations that were meant to SERVE us. Now we serve them. Wake up, everyone, before it's too late. Corbett and his ilk need to go; they are parasites who are leading us to a collapse, financial and moral.
Submitted by Amydfgb10 (not verified) on June 27, 2014 7:05 am
The issues regarding schools in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia have been in the news headlines for a long time. It was disappointing to read about the approach taken by the authorities towards these issues. I am happy that people are taking initiations. Thanks.

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