Halt closings, study alternatives
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity, NAACP, Parents United, City Controller Alan Butkovitz, and a strong majority of City Council members are not calling for a moratorium on school closings because we want to “do nothing,” as schools chief William R. Hite Jr. suggests. Rather, the moratorium would allow the School District to work with stakeholders to come up with a new plan that considers community impact and seeks added resources, instead of settling for austerity.
Take, for example, the concept of “community schools,” which have helped reshape communities and dramatically raise graduation rates in Cincinnati and Portland, Oregon. In Ohio, schools are considered community learning centers whose unique local partnerships allow for things like adult education, parent/family engagement, mentoring, and summer enrichment services. The district should take more time to explore this idea – and many others – here in Philadelphia.
The School Reform Commission should hold off on this rush to closure, and give us the chance to work together to build a public school system that attracts students, improves achievement, and raises graduation rates.
Quanisha M. Smith and Ron Whitehorne, Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS)