For almost 30 years I was a principal and central office administrator in the School District of Philadelphia. I’ve lived in Philadelphia for more than 40 years. After leaving the Philadelphia schools I went on to Trenton, NJ, to be superintendent for eight years, than came back to Philadelphia to teach educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. My heart and my commitment to improving urban public schools have always been centered in Philadelphia.
In 2012, the School District of Philadelphia closed six schools. In 2013, it closed 24.
Philadelphia has a rich history of high school student activism, stretching back to 1967 when 3,500 Philadelphia students walked out of their schools, marched to the Board of Education and demanded the addition
Urban districts throughout the nation are contending with declining enrollment, aging facilities in disrepair, persistently low student achievement, increased competition with charters, and severe fiscal constraints. Philadelphia is a case in point. Over the past year, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) was forced to borrow $304 million dollars to cover basic operating expenses, close 24 of its 242 schools, and lay off thousands of its employees.
Dr. James Lytle’s discussion of the “destruction” of the School District of Philadelphia was indeed a bitter pill to swallow. As an educator who is both an alumnus of Teach For America and a charter school employee, it might seem as if I am representative of the types of people whom Dr.
On the first day of my tenure as a Philadelphia School District Teacher, I made the following observations. 1. I don’t have a desk in my classroom. 2. There are also not enough desks for my students. 3. I have been assigned to teach a subject completely different than the one that I took the state test for. 4. S#%$! It’s 7:45. The bell just rang and I can hear my new students coming down the hall.
Summer is a merciful time of reflection and restoration for a teacher. Much of the meaning of what takes place over the course of a year is imperceptible until the backward glance of summer. In my seventeenth summer as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, my annual retrospective is colored by what looms for all of us in Philadelphia. While Torch Lytle’s call for unified action to wrest control of our schools from the elites who make policy decisions is absolutely imperative, I cannot help but wonder about my place in this social movement. My most meaning
We are at a tipping point in Philadelphia.
I say this as a teacher, fully committed to the promise of public education for all the young people living in this city I love, who has felt the repeated stab of the School District’s systemic dysfunction and the State and City’s structural abandonment.
Schools are institutions created to teach and socialize students in an environment they feel comfortable in, so what do we do when a school becomes a business? In Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago, mass school closures were said to be the only beneficial strategy for improving the educational systems within these specific cities. Data shows that these 3 major cities have not benefited and in fact have suffered from these reforms. Unfortunately, this reform is beginning in Philadelphia and the outcome will probably be the same.
Another Philadelphia Story: Mobilizing resistance and widening the educational imagination in the midst of corporate assault on the public sphere
I was recently invited to participate in the MIT Media Lab PLATFORM, a Summit of Innovators. Brilliant engineers, computer scientists, coders, activists, designers, and technology wizards -- this was a gathering of people of color who have been remarkably successful, provocative, and creative against the odds. The seminar opened with a stunning young man who began his remarks by quoting Mark Zuckerberg’s innovators’ motto: “Move fast and break things.”
Thanks from the Editorial Team