Budget an opportunity for public schools

More than 30 years ago, I walked my eldest child to kindergarten at Henry School, around the corner from the West Mt. Airy home our family has lived in since 1978. My three children attended Philadelphia public schools. As a parent and as an educator, I believed in the importance of quality public schools for all of our city’s children then and now. Currently, I work to help achieve that goal as co-chair of the education team of POWER Interfaith.

This month, members of our community will have an opportunity to tell City Council what they think are the most important things to spend precious school budget dollars on at public comment hearings on May 15. You can also learn more about key issues at a State of the Schools hearing on May 6. Let them know that it’s time to prioritize six key budget areas:

1. More funding – end the tax abatement in Philadelphia and increase state funding. POWER is also working on making sure each district gets its fair share of state funding and eliminating racial bias in funding by putting more of basic education funding through PA’s Fair Funding Formula.

2. Fix our toxic schools through an urgent facilities repair fund

3. Counselors for every 250 students

4. Dedicated staff to bridge the gap between schools, families and communities

5. Air conditioning

6. Schoolyards – make a down payment on fixing and transforming play spaces

This is the first budget season under the new local school board, and primary elections are the following week. That’s why I hope that members of our community will show up to be present at the hearings and let Council know that funding key priorities in our public schools matters a lot to us.

Andrea Moselle
West Mt. Airy


Kate Smith defense missed mark

In “Commentary: Removal of Kate Smith Statue Unjust” by Dr. James Hanak, [Local, April 25] the author misses the mark and the meaning of the song.

The song, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” is a clear example of satire. Verses of the song show how the lyrics make a political statement to ridicule the mindset of those who ensnared Africans and subjected them to slavery in America.

The song depicts the abominable life and experience of the black, African slaves (“the darkies”) in America. The mention of Gabriel’s Horn in verse five, lines one and two, “Someone had to fight the Devil, Shout about Gabriel’s Horn,” is a protest against the horrific killings of black men, women and children.

Line four of verse five, “That would bring God’s children to green pastures,” notes that upon dying, the enslaved Africans, tortured into their demise, would find peace in death. In addition, the last two lines of verse four, “Sing, Sing that’s what you taught all them white folks to do” is a reference to the exuberance the white oppressors gained from seeing the “darkies,” their slaves, suffer.

The song is not about “…the black slave and how he/she overcame the oppression and weariness of slavery,” as stated by the Hanak. “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” addresses the oppressor’s ideology, the mockery of the oppressed and their unexpected survival. The idea that anyone would think the song is about glory and overcoming oppression is preposterous. Removing Kate Smith’s statue is politically correct.

Waju Akiwowo
Chestnut Hill


Living with, not killing, deer

Taxpayer-funded, United States Government so-called sharpshooters have wrapped up yet another winter of unspeakable violence in Fairmount Park and other areas contiguous to it.

The annual search and destroy operation has claimed the lives of a reported 4,101 deer since 1999, according to the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation. Evidently, we’ve accepted living with these mass casualties year after year. It’s tragic.

It’s well past time to end the apathy and turn to empathy. The human animal needs to stock up on empathy and take responsibility to mitigate circumstances blamed on deer.

“We humans now so dominate the globe that we rarely feel as if we need to live with other animals on reciprocal terms,’’ lamented philosopher Martha Nussbaum.

When it comes to appreciating and respecting our fellow sentient beings, we’ve lost our way. I’m afraid we have a long journey ahead on the path to healing our relationship with deer and other animals.

A recent talk on canines among us given by the Pennsylvania Game Commission at the Valley Green Inn discussed ways to be a better neighbor and how to live in harmony with coyotes and foxes in our parks and neighborhoods. Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer suggests that Friends of the Wissahickon schedule a much-needed similar talk on deer, given, of course, by a reputable deer biologist/ecologist.

Defenders of Wildlife has declared 2019 the Year of Coexistence. Has any thought been given to the worthy challenge of coexistence? Peaceful coexistence is one of the four cornerstones of “compassionate conservation.’’

Wildlife ecologist Laura Simon said, “The problem is not the deer; its learning to live with the deer.’’

Bridget Irons
Chestnut Hill