In an effort to further illuminate what could be a perilous walk to school for many of the students who will be displaced if the School Reform Commission takes up the recommendation of School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William Hite Jr. and closes 37 of its schools, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will join other stakeholders by holding three “Walk In My Shoes” rallies and marches.
The series of events will begin at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Meade Elementary School, 1600 N. 18th St.. The second demonstration will be held on Monday at L.P. Hill Elementary School, 3133 Ridge Ave., with the final rally taking place on Feb. 26 at Fulton Elementary School, 60 E. Haines St.
The PFT will also lead a “Stand Up For Our Schools” rally at 4 p.m. on Thursday outside the district’s Education Center at 440 N. Broad Street.
Although PFT President Jerry Jordan couldn’t be reached for comment by Tribune deadline, Jordan has long been a critic of the district’s plan to shutter schools, going back several years to Jordan’s outspokenness in regard to the district’s controversial Facilities Master Plan, which outlined the district’s plan to shutter dozens of schools.
The Facilities Master Plan was in place long before the arrival of Hite.
“The latest round of proposed school closings is disheartening, yet not surprising. The SRC is once again employing the same tactic of devaluing, defunding and destroying traditional neighborhood public schools in Philadelphia. In its bottom line-focused rush to close neighborhood schools, the SRC is turning its back on the parents, students and communities that will be affected by these closures. This course of action has already failed to raise student achievement in the past, it has disrupted the lives of schoolchildren, and it has added blight and dangerous conditions in neighborhoods where these large, vacant buildings are located,” Jordan recently noted in a posting on the PFT’s website. “Closing neighborhood schools is not only ineffective education policy—in the long term, it’s not even sound fiscal policy when you factor in the costs of insuring and securing vacant buildings.
“The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will be working with parents and communities to fight against these closures and to advocate for a public education plan that focuses on improving schools for every child.”
Jordan is also one of the founding members of Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools – PCAPS – a coalition comprised of the Philadelphia Student Union, Action United, Youth United for Change, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. PCAPS recently released a comprehensive alternate plan to the one pushed by Hite and the district. According to PCAPS, The new education plan includes the input of the community, and places an emphasis on what every child needs for a great education.
“Instead of an education plan, the SRC and the Boston Consultant Group[hired by the district to do a top-down analysis of district operations] have given us a business model,” Jordan said when PCAPS’ plan was announced. “We can only improve teaching and learning conditions when we stop underfunding our schools, and begin to addresses our kids’ economic conditions.”