Good evening everyone, I want to first welcome and thank the newly appointed School Board for being here tonight.
My name is Shereda Cromwell I am an active parent, a committee person in the 11th ward, and I am a Parent and Community Organizer with Educational Opportunities for Families. But most importantly, I am a mother of three children (two of which are on the autism spectrum) which attend schools in Philadelphia.
I’m here tonight to speak for them and the nearly 20,000 other students stranded and low-performing schools in Philadelphia. I want to call attention tonight to the fact that almost all the lower performing schools in the district are in low-income neighborhoods. Which says to me that someone seems to believe that the families that live in these neighborhoods do not care about the type of education their children receive. Which is the farthest thing from the truth.
Families of the children that attend these schools are tired of the disrespect. We are tired of people who don’t live in these neighborhoods and people whose children don’t attend the schools saying that “Everything is fine” or “Your school is a Priority 1 School/Turnaround School.” But by the school district’s own measures the schools are still failing and see little to no change. If it is not acceptable for white children and predominantly wealthy neighborhoods, it is no longer acceptable for black and brown children in low-income neighborhoods. The poorest of poor people want the same exact thing that the wealthiest of wealthy people want for their children. Every student, no matter their neighborhood or economic situation should have an equal opportunity to attend a great school.
This begins with the school district realizing that these children and these low-performing schools have been done a disservice for too many years. Existing funding should be directed to the schools and the students that need it most. Why would you want to keep a child from having opportunities? That is what you are allowing to happen when these low-performing schools can operate with no improvement and no real results. It is time for a change! Parents and communities are mobilizing and are no longer willing to accept the status quo.
So newly appointed School Board please keep in mind that you have a duty. A duty to all the children in the city of Philadelphia to ensure that they are all given equal and fair chances to success.
Parent and Community Organizer