I AM THE PARENT of two children - one who graduated from college and one who is a seventh-grade student at LP Elementary at 31st and Ridge in North Philadelphia. I will stop at nothing to make sure my younger child will go to college as well, but I am very concerned that the state of our city's public schools is making the path more and more challenging.
My son's school does not have a library or a computer room. We share a school nurse with three other schools, so she comes to our school only one day a week. My son's school (which runs from K to 8th grade) is very crowded. Most classes have between 30 and 35 students. We have sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders squeezed onto one floor, which results in big kids picking on little kids.
Meanwhile, the district closed FitzSimons and Rhodes high schools in our area and sent all the students to Strawberry Mansion High. So families like ours will have another very crowded and potentially dangerous situation to worry about in high school.
I am so concerned about the bleeding of money away from our public schools that I joined with ACTION United and through them have become part of a larger group called the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, or PCAPS.
We believe that the School Reform Commission's plan to close dozens of public schools, place even more emphasis on standardized tests and give less support to teachers and employees is exactly the wrong strategy. We need more investment in our schools, not less. To add insult to injury, this plan was written with very little input from parents, students or school staff.
Since the SRC chose not to get that input, PCAPS has worked hard to distribute a survey to more than 1,500 Philadelphians, to host more than 25 listening sessions, and to organize large town-hall meetings.
The survey results show that Philadelphians strongly oppose the SRC and Boston Consulting Group plan. In the meetings and listening sessions, students, parents, teachers and school employees proved that they have their own ideas for strengthening schools and communities.
One idea is to create a Student Bill of Rights that should guide all school district decisions. Another is to start thinking of students as growing people with a range of needs that require us to hire tutors, guidance counselors, librarians, nurses and social workers.
Schools need to be willing and able to adapt their curriculums to students' interests and backgrounds instead of revolving around testing and scores.
Finally, we have to do everything we can to keep experienced teachers and principals in all classrooms and schools. My son has had four principals over the last five years. That kind of turnover makes it harder for students and teachers alike to succeed.
Yes, we know that ideas like these will cost money. We have suggestions for the city and state to both spend education money better and create new funding in the future. These ideas and many more will be included in PCAPS' community education plan, which we're going to release later this week (and will be available at WeArePCAPS.org).
Most of all, I just want to be heard. I think there are many other parents like me who also want to be heard. We should not have to accept this level of educational standard, and we hope that the school district and the SRC will take our concerns and our ideas to heart.
Sense & responsibility
Re: "Feds sue maker of baby chair" (Daily News, Thursday).
Just another example of how far our society has deteriorated and where we are headed. This example makes you wonder at what point the bureaucrats lose their ability to use common sense in making policy, and the consumers when using products.
We have become a society that has to protect the stupid few at the expense of the rest of us. God help us!
I wholeheartedly agree with your article in last week's Daily News. ("Blame families, not foam chairs," Stu Bykofsky, Friday). It seems as though no one, in this day and age, wants to assume responsibility for their own actions and in many cases for their own stupidity. Every day somewhere in the media there is another report of the blame game. It is always someone else's fault. The courts seem to substantiate this lack of responsibility. It is very disheartening to say the least.
Unfortunately, I don't see this situation getting any better, only worse. When does the climate and culture change? Our children are going to grow up thinking this blame game is OK. How sad.
Just follow the smoke
Mayor Nutter and Fire Commissioner [Lloyd] Ayers should stop attacking the firefighters on all fronts and just work together for a better Philadelphia.
They supposedly want to shift senior firefighters around the city to make sure they know each area. What a bunch of bunk!
All they need to know, no matter where they are in the city, once the smoke rises into the sky, the fire is usually right below.