Over a hundred people who sat in Council Chambers for over five hours waiting for a chance to speak out on the upcoming Comcast Franchise agreement. Here’s the testimony of PCAPS coordinator Ron Whitehorne
Good afternoon, Council members. My name is Ron Whitehorne. I’m a retired teacher, a parent of two children who attended neighborhood public schools and currently work as the coordinator for Philadelphia Coalition Advocating For Public Schools a coalition of educators, parents, students and community based organizations that has long advocated for corporations to pay their fair share to support our schools.
As a teacher I know first hand the way computer technology can boost student learning. Just let me share one story. At Julia de Burgos at one time I taught science to a group that my team had for three successive years, 6th thru 8th grade. I had a student named Carlos who repeatedly failed. He rarely did his assignments, doodled and talked during class and seemed beyond the reach of any strategies I knew for getting him engaged. Then we embarked on a robotics project where students constructed machines out of Legos, learned an elementary form of computer programming and then wrote programs that operated the machines from the computers. Suddenly Carlos came alive. He built a huge dinosaur robot that could do amazing things. He helped the other students over the difficult spots in the project. His pride in his new found success was a wonderful thing to behold.
It’s sad to say that kind of success story with computers is not very likely in most of our classrooms today. Computers, on average, are over 10 years old. As most people know that’s an antique in today’s world, prone to breakdown and lacking the computing power to run state of the art software. Computers that get a lot of use from students need maintenance and over burdened, over stretched staff can’t do it without more support.
We have to ask two questions.
First why should our students be denied the same advantages when it comes to computer technology that students in affluent communities have. Why should our students be short changed when we know that computer literacy is important for success in school and beyond. We know the answer. Money.
But that get’s to the second question. If money is so critical why is a corporate giant that makes record profits excused from paying school property taxes. Why isn’t a technology company that depends on the city granting it a franchise expected to do more to promote computer literacy in our schools?
Many of us are tired of the same old trickle down economics arguments that justify subsidies for corporations and the rich while we see deepening racial and economic inequality all around us, symbolized by crumbling, under staffed, under resourced schools
We need City Council to stand up for our city’s future, our children, and support a franchise agreement that includes dedicated funding for technology and staffing.