Full House at West Philly Town Meeting on Local Control of Schools

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Panel discusses why returning control of our schools to the people of Philadelphia is needed

Over a hundred people gathered last night at Monumental Baptist Church to press for ending the 13 year old failed experiment with the School Reform Commission and return our schools to local control. For PCAPS this demand is part of a broader campaign to elect a Governor and legislators who are committed to quality education for all children.

A panel of parent Kia Hinton from ACTION United, Maureen O’Driscoll, Kindergarten teacher at JB Kelly and two student members of BPSOS, Kenneth Lac and Cassandra Manotham, from Central and Girls High talked about what state control of schools has mean’t for them. All three speakers hit on the impact of the failure of the state to fund our schools. The other theme was the SRC denys all of us a democratic voice in determining what happens in our schools. Rev. Dr. Matsen, the pastor of Monumental Baptist also spoke, focusing on the historic and continuing inequality between inner city schools and the affluent suburbs. State Representative James Roebuck opened the meeting with a strong pledge of support for the local control campaign.

Besides hearing from the speakers, town hall participants, phoned, tweeted, wrote postcards and emails to City Council and the Mayor calling for allowing the ballot question on returning our schools to local control to go forward. Working Families Organization Director Kati Sipp told the audience that in spite of 40,000 signatures on petitions to get this question before the voters, Council is dragging its feet. Approval from Council and the Mayor is needed in September.

The town meeting also observed a moment of silence for Michael Brown and victims of police brutality. PCAPS coordinator Ron Whitehorne noted that “the same mindset and system that say’s it’s ok to deny black children a decent education is at work when young, unarmed black men are beaten and shot.”

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