A community meeting to be held tonight addressing the issue of disparities in city schools will attract parents, school supporters and community activists, but no representation from the school district, much to the dismay of organizers with education group Action United.
At the event, participants will discuss ways to address the problem, but William Browning, the group's eductional director, it's an opportunity missed for district officials to gauge the community.
"We're extremely disappointed," he said yesterday. "We don't understand how an administration as large as this one can't have one person who thinks this is important enough to come meet with our parents to discuss this."
Action United, founded earlier this year by former ACORN members, is calling for the district to equally distribute experienced teachers throughout the district.
Their report, Inequitable Distribution in Philadelphia Schools, reveals that a teacher gap between high poverty and low poverty schools in the district adversely affects poor and minority students.
Roughly two months ago, members extended a formal invitation to Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and School Reform Commision Chairman Robert Archie, but was told that neither would make it due to prior engagements.
Instead, Browning said he was told, Deputy Superintendent Leroy Nunery, or another high level official, may make the meeting. Now, no one is expected to show up, he said.
District spokeswoman, Shana Kemp, said that not only did district officials never confirm with AU whether anyone would attend its meeting, but district officials had provided several occasions to meet with the group.
"They've already been given an audience," Kemp said. "We invited them to the parent roundtable (with Ackerman) and the School Reform Commission meeting, but they rejected those things."
Plus, Browning and others had met with Archie last month to discuss this matter and others, she said.
"We want to hear their views, but they're not offering solutions," she said.
"We are not interested in just throwing stones at this problem," he said in a statement. "We want to help the district find real solutions for our kids."
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should the school district send a representative to the meeting tonight? Why?