From the Desk of Lance Haver, Director of Civic Engagement for Philadelphia City Council.
Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) and Council members Blondell Reynolds Brown (At Large), Jannie Blackwell (3rd District) and Helen Gym (At Large) recently wrote an op-ed published in the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer arguing that it is time to “bring the failed experiment of state control of Philadelphia public schools to an end.”
We’ve posted excerpts below. Read the op-ed in its entirety on philly.com
The abrupt resignations of two well-regarded appointees to the School Reform Commission present an opportunity that Philadelphians must grasp with urgency.
Our mandate is clear: Bring the failed experiment of state control of Philadelphia public schools to an end and mitigate disruption to classrooms and to the School District of Philadelphia administration.
After 15 years of state control, some Philadelphians have gotten used to managing expectations for what public schools can deliver. Unpredictable annual state funding and political turbulence in Harrisburg have created a state of crisis fatigue, where conditions that would be viewed as outrageous elsewhere are numbly accepted here – including, unfortunately, by some people in positions of political power.
The fatigue is real, but so is the crisis. Recently, the Inquirer reported that young teachers, weary of a protracted contract dispute, are leaving the profession and/or our city. If this trend continues, the quality of education in our schools will suffer, as will our city’s long-term economic health. We cannot hope to stop the cycle of poverty in more challenged neighborhoods if we do not consistently offer adequate resources to our public schools.
To retain teachers and students, we must rebuild confidence in the School District. That can begin only by making the district a truly public institution, both transparent and accountable.
The next two SRC members, appointed by Gov. Wolf and Mayor Kenney, respectively, must commit to work with stakeholders toward a more democratic governing institution to oversee district operations, and to eventually vote to dissolve the SRC.
The council members continue…
When one institution fails, faith in all institutions suffers. We have seen that elsewhere, most recently at the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which also is not locally controlled. As a revenue generator, the PPA is viewed as too dazzling a jewel for state lawmakers to relinquish. By their words and deeds, the Republican majority does not show the same regard for Philadelphia public schools.
We believe that every child is precious, regardless of the circumstances into which they are born. As elected officials who are committed to the mission of quality public education, we ask for the opportunity to reclaim ownership of our schools so that every child in Philadelphia has a chance to shine.