Opinion: Dungee Glenn advocated for children with passion, commitment
by Blondell Reynolds Brown
Sandra Dungee Glenn is a champion for children, an advocate for inclusion, and an activist for urban America. I am proud to have worked with her for decades, and applaud her efforts on the occasion of her recent departure from the School Reform Commission.
From her first days as a School Reform Commissioner in January 2002, Sandra diligently and consistently fulfilled her duties during a controversial, challenging period. In a time of public outcry, media glare, and staff disgruntlement, Sandra carefully absorbed the intricacies of public education, making informed policy decisions, contacting lawmakers in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Washington, and opening dialogues with virtually every interested group in town.
Her advocacy remained focused like a laser beam on meeting classroom needs and impacting children’s lives for the better. She took to the airwaves whenever possible to listen and explain the thinking behind her decisions, to let individuals or families tell their stories, and to reassure listeners and callers both that she wanted nothing more than the best possible teachers, schools and programs, everywhere in the city for every child.
Sandra kept up the pressure both in public meetings and behind closed doors to examine and expand access to School District of Philadelphia contracting opportunities for minority businesses – as a matter of simple fairness. In a majority-minority city, every effort should be made to include contractors of color in the District’s multibillion-dollar budget. Thanks to her firm stance, contracts to people of color increased to 25 percent.
As the turmoil of the early SRC days settled down, Sandra took up a decades-old struggle to mandate African American history for all students. Again, simple fairness – not to mention good common sense in the age of a global economy – was the impetus as she helped drive the District’s decision to finally require all students take an African American history course to graduate. Bravo!
She stayed the course during her appointment in August 2007 as chair of the SRC after James Nevels resigned.
As her unpaid work at the SRC expanded, she remained committed to fulfilling her duties as president of the American Cities Foundation, which aims to develop and implement a new national urban policy. The organization has promoted the inclusion of all communities in environmentalism and energy conservation within and for cities, largely through events Sandra conceived and executed.
I commend her deference to and admiration of those pioneers who came before her, in education, advocacy, and politics. Whenever she’s praised in public, she brings up past leaders like Constance Clayton, Ethel Allen, and Dorothy Rush as a way to show she’s standing on the shoulders of legends.