Good Evening Commissioners,
For the record my name is Sylvia P. Simms, Executive Director of Educational Opportunities for Families and most importantly a very engaged member in the North Philadelphia community.
I want to talk to you about Effective Family and Community Engagement…I use the word Effective because you’ll say WE engage folks. I will say yes, you do…but who? NOT the families/community members that are in failing schools, who live in poverty, the ones who are low-income and uneducated (by someone’s standard). I’m letting you know our voices WILL NOT be silent anymore. WE want the same RESPECT that is given to OTHERS. Why is it that in OUR failing schools and communities no one cares or listen to the outcries of many? If these failing schools were in Center City or Old City it would be an emergency and on the front page of the Inquirer.
Dr. Hite I heard you say “A great school close to where you live” where I live there is none. WE have too many schools that are in single digits (based on a ranking from 1-100 our schools are 5’s, 7’s etc.).
Mayor Kenney’s Community Schools initiative kicks out and don’t partner with the folks who actually lives in the school community, or pick and choose who they want to partner with. And you sit and wonder why folks are choosing different options. What I am talking about is Customer Service…
There are four types of schools:
- Fortress Schools…which many districts schools are. Many educators think we’d be a better school if we had better children and parents. Those families don’t value education. We don’t want them on our School Advisory Councils (SACs).
- Come if WE call Schools…only come when WE need YOU. Let’s set all the terms and call all the shots.
- Open-Door Schools…WE have lots of activities for families. WE keep families busy so they can stay out of our hair.
- Partnership Schools…WE could never do it without OUR families. We work with OUR families and OUR communities to do what’s best for children.
WE HAVE TO CHANGE OUR MINDSET OR WE WILL CONTINUE TO GET WHAT WE HAVE GOTTEN FOR YEARS. A FAILING DISTRICT.