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October 2013 Vol. 21. No. 1 Focus on Schools in Crisis

Theme articles

Saying goodbye to 24 Philadelphia schools

Last December, Superintendent William Hite announced plans to close or relocate 44 Philadelphia schools at the end of the school year. At most of the schools, parents, teachers, students, and other community members were outraged by the plan. Rallies to save the schools ensued, and the District dropped a dozen schools from the list; four others were spared by the School Reform Commission. But a majority of the efforts to save schools from being shuttered were unsuccessful. Ultimately, 24 schools were closed, with 5 more relocating or merging.

Closed schools
Bok Technical High School L.P. Hill Elementary Sheridan West Middle School
Carroll High School Kinsey Elementary M.H. Stanton Elementary
Communications Technology High School Leidy Elementary Smith Elementary 
Douglas High school Lamberton High School University City High School
Fairhill Elementary Pepper Middle School Vaux High School
Ferguson Elementary Pratt Elementary George Washington Elementary
(Now houses Abigail Vare)
Fulton Elementary Reynolds Elementary Whittier Elementary
Germantown High School Shaw Middle School Alexander Wilson Elementary

 

Neighborhoods, many anchored by the schools that were closed in June, were altered forever, leaving many families uncertain about what the future of public education in the city would look like.  

To capture how the District’s school closings looked and felt, Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss put out a call to her colleagues – amateur and professional – to document the last days of these schools, many of which had become important institutions to students and families, staff, and alumni. The photographers gained access to most of the schools, capturing images of empty classrooms and hallways, final graduating classes, hugs from principals and teachers, well-worn exteriors, and other memorable moments. 

Above are just a few of the images. Hundreds of additional photographs are displayed on the Philadelphia School Closings Photo Collective website. The Notebook has also produced a video about the closings.

Comments (16)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 2:11 pm
The school district closed down 24 schools and opened up how many new "chiefs" on the organizational chart? They laid off unionized employees and hired many new employees at higher salaries.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 20, 2013 4:06 pm
This is a Banzai attack on unions everywhere with Phila. Teachers being the lowest hanging fruit. ALL WORKERS both union and non union better get a grip and join together or they'll continue to separate and conquer us. Google, "First They Came." Make no mistake about this, it is nothing short of the destruction of worker rights in the USA funded by the top 5% against everybody else. The tide has begun to change but MUCH more REAL action is significantly needed or get used to Wal Mart Wages everywhere. PLEASE don't say, it can't happen. Google Worker Rights before The Labor Movement for the stuck on stupid brigade who have their heads firmly stuck in concrete or as Sergeant Shultz liked to say, "I see nothing, hear nothing and know nothing." It's coming to get all of us if we allow it.
Submitted by anon (not verified) on September 20, 2013 7:24 pm
nice legacy hite, ramos, corbett, nutter, gleason & the rest of the enablers. history will not be kind to you. i suppose you think you made an acceptable bargain for compromising your "integrity". hokum.
Submitted by anon (not verified) on September 21, 2013 10:39 am
joe k, for an old retired ex-principal put out to pasture, you sure do come in for your share of censoring around here. feisty bugger, aren't ya! lol. seriously, you keep on throwing them haymakers; one's bound to land square on the chin sooner or later.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 21, 2013 11:28 am
As long as I can still dunk a tennis ball, all is right with the world. I isn't dat old. Yes, they do tend to hold me to standards different from other folks. Yes, I also have the proverbial "puncher's chance." More and more people are beginning to see the agenda for what it is; if we can now get the people to ACT------not puttering around in red shirts, fasting, singing and sending some kids down Broad Street, the day could still be saved. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2013 7:14 pm
Thank you Mrs. Grelis for that last photo of GWP...my first permanent home in the SDP Linda K.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on September 20, 2013 9:15 pm
Why does it take only 6 months to close traditional public schools but up to 2 years to close an "underperforming" charter school? Seems like a double standard to me. EGS
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 21, 2013 11:43 am
EGS--I think you mean 200 years.
Submitted by tom-104 on September 21, 2013 8:15 am
Closing schools is acceptance of failure. The truth is that with proper funding, community support, and empowering the school staff to address the problems, rather than blaming them for the problems, these schools could have been fixed. If a building is too old, a new one could have been built. Instead the corporate education reformers saw the troubled schools as a crisis to exploit ("Never let a crisis go to waste." as Eli Broad likes to say.) and the SRC dutifully followed orders and closed them resulting in the disaster we have today.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 21, 2013 11:24 am
Bravo in all directions but without REAL REACTION--- our enemies just snicker and proceed.
Submitted by Fran S (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:27 pm
I have to agree with Joe, here. We are not in a "debate," a "conversation," or a "dialogue." We are in a war. It is over, not just education, but the fundamental values that define the kind of country we want to be. We need organized acts of civil disobedience, bodies in the streets, not just words of T-shirts. We need to make common cause with our brother unions, with workers at ASPIRA and other charters who want to unionize, or the 1% are going to take all of our money.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 21, 2013 4:56 pm
Fran S.-----------------Your post is exactly right and stated very well. Yes, it IS a WAR and anybody who doubts it should google, Neville Chamberlain, not Wilt, Neville. Lad thought he could "dialogue" with Hitler and we all know how that turned out. BULLIES are never happy until they take everything from you. I agree that solidarity is needed and a strike challenging Act 46 is more than appropriate, FAR more than appropriate.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2013 9:09 pm
And not all school that were closed were troubled.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2013 2:28 pm
And Jerry Jordan comes up with progress but not really. Quit wasting time, let the SRC impose the terms then we can finally take this s*** to court and fight and win. What kind of good agreement is going to come out of this????????? If we take a 1 year pay freeze then thats 3 years with no raise. Sorry but gas, food, utilities have all gone up, I have a family to provide for. Quit the shenanigans and get on with it and challenge the ACT 46 law.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 24, 2013 9:33 am
my classroom is featured in the photos (u-city). i never knew that when i painted "all the pieces matter" that the school would close down, but it's even more poignant now, isn't it? i would like to finally reiterate that while these photos are great, there are voices and bodies behind these halls and rooms. i wish someone had spoken to me... it seems a bit voyeuristic. that photo breaks my heart because i remember crying with many students under that sign. ALL of the pieces mattered. every. single. one.
Submitted by William (not verified) on April 28, 2014 9:29 pm
I left Philadelphia in 2005 after 40 years there and just found out about this from the ESPN documentary that is airing tonight. Its the result of years of economic decline in that city and is no accident. Money doesn't grow on trees and the last productive citizen leaving should turn out the lights for the remaining leeches and takers left in the city.

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