Hope for our public schools?

On Monday, May 20, I attended a POWER meeting (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild, an interfaith agency) about the state of Philadelphia public schools.

As I sat listening, this is what came to mind: “My God, they were talking about the same problems when my kids were in school.” Large class sizes, not enough teachers, not enough money, cuts to art and music classes, cuts to maintenance staff, violence, not enough security, etc.

But I was encouraged by a few things, e.g., control of public schools has been taken from Harrisburg and given back to the city. POWER has been dealing with Harrisburg legislators about the Fair Funding Formula it created but has not yet fully implemented. They are planning a trip to Harrisburg on June 12 to address the issue. You can find more information on their website.

The other bright spot is a student-run nonprofit organization called UrbEd. The young woman who represented them described the conditions in the public schools she attended and contrasted that with the beautiful, fully funded schools she has visited. It made her ask the question, “What are we saying to our students?” She noted that schools do more for students than just teach them. They help them on their life’s journey. They are people first and students second.

She was so inspiring that I went right home, visited their website and gave a donation. I encourage you to do the same and find a way to get involved for the sake of our wonderful children. We need to show them that they matter. All of them.

Delores Paulk