8.21.2011

A Dispiriting Quiet

I've been quiet, I know.

It's not that I haven't been involved in the fight for public education in Philadelphia or that I haven't had anything to say. I've been plenty busy and I've had lots to say. I just haven't felt comfortable writing it all down.

And that's part of the problem in Philadelphia these days. As parents, we feel powerless. We feel silenced. We feel as though we are just accessories, not working parts, to the public education process.

I get the challenges we're facing as our kids enter school this fall. I've educated myself on the issues.

My response? I've written letters, made calls, marched at rallies and attended meetings. I did everything that our school asked us, as parents, to do. I did everything that our School District asked us, as parents, to do. And I did everything that our City Council and Mayor's Office asked us, as parents, to do.

And yet, with the first day of school less than three weeks away, I feel that we've taken a trillion steps backwards rather than a single step forward.

Let's forget test scores for a minute. Other than test scores, how are Philadelphia public schools better today than they were last year?

They are not safer. They are not less crowded. They do not have better teachers.

In fact, I would argue that with the budget cuts in place - and the drama orchestrated by the leadership at the SDP and the SRC - school are far less safe, they are far more crowded and the number of energetic, qualified teachers has dropped.

And I'm a cheerleader for Philadelphia public schools. I am that parent who has, for years, been advocating that things are getting better and that they will continue to get better. For the first time in a number of years, I question whether that's true.


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