by Bill Hangley Jr.
At a rousing interfaith rally of thousands, Superintendent William Hite vowed to support the community organizing group POWER’s newly launched campaign to organize public school parents into an effective citywide force.
At the rally, held Sunday in the massive Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philadelphia, Hite agreed to meet regularly with POWER and encourage principals to let it organize in their schools. In return, Hite asked POWER’s members to help lobby for education funding in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
by Charlotte Pope
Now that the School Reform Commission has voted to close 23 schools, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools -- a major voice in the school-closings debate -- is regrouping and laying out its next steps.
About 200 people came together Wednesday evening during the group’s general assembly to hear about a new three-part campaign focusing on school funding, community schools, and charter school accountability.
by Zachary Lax
I am a second-year high school teacher who is proud to serve the students of the School District of Philadelphia. I am also among the many members of our community whose school will be closed. I know that my colleagues, my students, and their parents share my sense of dismay and betrayal over the final decision by the School Reform Commission -- and by extension their appointers, Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett -- to ignore our pleas.
It's been a busy last week for communities protesting the District's plan to close 29 schools and rallying to save their own schools. At Carroll High School on Wednesday, Feb. 27, students and members of the student-led Youth United for Change joined hands to form a human chain around their school to protest its proposed closure. That same day, ACTION United and PCAPS organized three separate marches in opposition to the District's plan. More rallies followed the next day at Vare Elementary and Beeber Middle School, both of which are slated to close.
Here are photos from the protest at Carroll, organized by YUC, and the JUNTOS-led rally at Vare Elementary.
Photo credit: all photos by Harvey Finkle
by Charlotte Pope
Dressed in uniform, students of the military academies at Leeds and Elverson came to District headquarters Tuesday to hear alternative proposals to the planned relocation of both schools.
They joined parents, teachers and community members -- about 40 attendees in all -- at the meeting, the fourth of an additional six sessions that the District scheduled this month to focus on individual schools or groups of schools slated for closure or relocation.
The District has proposed to move Elverson and Leeds to the Roosevelt Middle School building, combining them to create Philadelphia Military Academy High School.
A coalition comprised of an array of political, religious and civic leaders on Monday reiterated its call that the School District to impose a one-year moratorium on closing schools, presenting an analysis showing that the proposal to shutter 37 buildings disproportionately affects Black and Latino students and those with disabilities.
At the same time, they announced that the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education will investigate its complaint that last year's closings of eight schools schools was similarly discriminatory.
by Charlotte Pope
The biggest fear for the young students who came out to the school-closings meeting at Overbrook High School on Tuesday night was clear: Would their safety be at risk?
In a room of about 300 people, some of the youngest voices in the school-closings debate took the floor at the West Philadelphia school to relay their concerns about the hazards of traveling across unknown neighborhoods, bullying, and increased conflicts among students.
"I want my school to stay open, where I feel safe," said Judea Williams, a 3rd grader at Gompers Elementary, one of the schools slated for closure. "I don’t want to have to watch my back all of the time. If I move to Beeber, I will have to be in school with a bunch of 8th and 7th graders, and I don’t want to be around them because they might have fights. The little children that are tiny might get hurt.”
by Bill Hangley, Jr.
With the shadow of dozens of possible school closures looming in the background, a group of public school advocates has formally filed an ethics complaint challenging the legitimacy of the dramatic reform plan developed for the School District of Philadelphia by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the William Penn Foundation.
Este otoño los defensores de la educación trabajaron para asegurar que se tomara en cuenta la opinión de la comunidad en la discusión sobre el futuro de las escuelas de Filadelfia: la Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) llevó a cabo dos foros y circuló una encuesta dirigida a padres, educadores, estudiantes y otros que apoyan la educación pública.
Education advocates worked this fall to ensure a community voice in the discussion about the future of Philadelphia schools: The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) sought input through two forums and a survey aimed at parents, educators, students, and other public education supporters.