Statement from Sylvia P. Simms, Executive Director of Educational Opportunities for Families (EOF), on the first convening of the Mayor’s nominating panel for the School District of Philadelphia’s new school board:
“Congratulations to the Members of the nominating panel. You have a important job before you. You will select the school board members who will decide the fate of the School District of Philadelphia for the next generation. The lives of many families will be in the hands of the next school board and we urge you to consider them while selecting your nominees.
There are more than 20,000 students stranded in failing district schools, schools where more than half of the students can’t read, and where nearly all can’t do math on grade level. These schools are broken, and students and families are stranded in them. These families have the right to the same high-quality education that wealthier Philadelphians enjoy, and they can’t afford to wait any longer. If we do not act now, we will leave behind another generation of Philadelphia students.
As you take up this important task, we urge you to consider these critical questions:
Are you content with a system where some students get a world-class education and others are stranded in failing neighborhood schools?
Do you believe the catchment system, which segregates poor families of color from everyone else, is serving the needs of all Philadelphia families?
Do you believe that the district should target resources within the district to the schools and students that need it most, or should we continue with a system that allows resources to flow to wealthy neighborhoods and schools?
Should we judge success in closing the achievement gap by measuring activity or progress?
Do you believe all students deserve the ability to attend a great school, no matter the type?”