Only a week remains until the School Reform Commission is to vote on the largest wave of school closings in Philadelphia history, but community organizations are fighting for more time.
The NAACP and ACTION United, a statewide organization of 52,000 low- and moderate-income families, have asked for a one-year delay to find additional sources of funding and alternatives to the proposed closing of 29 schools.
Quanisha Smith, ACTION United leadership and community development director, said the Philadelphia School District needed more time to analyze how the closings would affect children, parents, and communities.
Smith; J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the local chapter of the NAACP; and ACTION United members met at its office on North Broad Street on Wednesday to "call out" Mayor Nutter, saying he neither supported the moratorium nor had stood up for the city's children and their families.
Kia Hinton, ACTION United member and parent of three school-age children, said Nutter had said that cutting school funding affected children's futures and "rips at our nation's promise to educate." But she said he had not defended the schools in danger of closing.
"Mayor Nutter is the most powerful person in the city, but he has done absolutely nothing to stand up for our schools," Hinton said.
Hinton's children attend Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School in Southwest Philadelphia and Longstreth Elementary School in Kingsessing. If the closings are approved March 7, Longstreth will become a "receiving school," taking in students from the closed schools in the area.
Mondesire said Nutter promised to improve the education system when he first ran for the mayor's office in 2007, but if he does not support the moratorium, "he's failed us."
"This man stood up years ago and declared himself to be the education mayor," he said. "It's time for him to prove it."
Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said the mayor supported the School District's decision to close the 29 schools and believes the necessity of school closings is clear. He said the task at hand is realigning school facilities with school population.
In response to Mondesire's statement that Nutter had ignored his requests to discuss the moratorium, McDonald said all Mondesire had to do was pick up the phone.
"If he wants to talk to the mayor, he knows what he has to do," McDonald said.