Enon pastor sends letter criticizing Pedro Ramos
School district officials have expressed a willingness to work with Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church senior pastor Rev. Alyn E. Waller in response to a letter from the pastor which blasts School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos.
The letter references Waller’s characterization of Ramos as “arrogant” and that he “cannot be trusted.”
“After the turmoil and controversy that surrounded the previous SRC and the School District of Philadelphia’s leaders, several community leaders, including myself, determined that we should be more helpful to you as you worked to get the schools back on track,” read a portion of Waller’s letter. “In very short order, however, many of the same concerns and complaints began to surface. Giving you the benefit of the doubt instead of joining in with the cries of discontent, we assumed the posture of communication leaders. Perhaps you were not hearing/understanding what was being said. To that end, the Enon Town Hall Meeting was set up and crucial questions needing responses from you were developed and very specific questions would begin an honest dialogue and the development of trust that has long since eroded between you and the community.”
Waller was referencing a recent meeting in which SRC members appeared flustered by the probing questions from the community members in attendance.
“I believe Pedro Ramos to be a good man, and I’m engaged in the critique of the process and product, not of him personally,” Waller said, when contacted by The Tribune Friday evening, June 8.
“We know that we have to right size. We recognize that at some point, some schools are going to have to close — demographics have changed in Philadelphia. We recognize public education will not look like public education that many of us in our 40 and 50s grew up with, and so all of that is clear.”
“Reorganization is a necessary part of the health of any institution, and we just want to make sure that this process has been informed by as wide an investment in the community and we don’t think that the best efforts have yet come out in terms of community engagement and trust,” Waller added.
It’s no secret that the SRC is reeling from intense community pressure. It has authored a series of unpopular cuts to staff and school resources, while also making a series of public relations blunders in regard to school closings and the scuttling of several programs.
“I listen to the consequences of your behavior daily as members of my congregation and our community laments the failure of public education and the negative impact on the future of our children. We hear the helplessness in the voices of parents and others who worry about the viability of the city, as the less than well-educated populous tries to make Philadelphia stronger but are ill-equipped to champion necessary change,” Waller’s letter concluded.
“Yes, we can see the consequences of your lack of effective action and stand together to let you know our resolve. We will challenge your lack of effectiveness and marshaling the citizens of this city in ways you have never seen, as we protect and defend our children’s right to a good public education.”
In an emailed response sent by school district spokesperson Evelyn Sample-Oates, officials indicated that they intend to work cooperatively with Waller.
“Chairman Ramos and other officials at the School District of Philadelphia have received the letter and intend to work closely with Reverend Waller and members of the Education Committee from Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church to help the public school students of Philadelphia,” the email stated.
“Our number one goal is to make sure that our children have safe and high achieving schools. The School District of Philadelphia will engage the entire community to transform our schools, realizing that this is a matter that involves the whole city of Philadelphia. We appreciate the feedback from Reverend Waller and look forward to working closely with him and his team.”