FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: POWER Joins “Our City Our Schools” Coalition

By November 3, 2016News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Beulah Osueke, bosueke@powerphiladelphia.org

Philadelphia, PA – POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) has voted unanimously to join forces with the “Our City Our Schools” Coalition to move forward in attaining local control of the School District of Philadelphia. A State takeover of Philadelphia’s public schools took place in 2001, and with it, the local Board of Education was abolished and replaced by the School Reform Commission (SRC).

The SRC consists of five members, three appointed by the Governor and two by the Mayor. At the time of the takeover, the school district was in dire financial straits, and it was presumed that with the State takeover would come additional state support including funding, preparation for a return to local governance, and a number of other improvements. Fifteen years later, very little has changed for the better.

The Philadelphia School District still struggles financially, although to its credit, it has achieved remarkable savings, and currently has a balanced budget and even a small surplus. However, it is a smaller school district which continues to have declining enrollment, growing financial obligations to charter schools, and aging and sometimes dangerous infrastructure issues.

Both Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf support the abolition of the SRC and a return to local control. OCOS and POWER plan to work together along with other local organizations to help bring about the necessary change as soon as possible. The first step is for SRC members to vote to disband. Governor Wolf’s nominee may have to wait months until confirmation hearings take place. We’re encouraged by Mayor Kenney’s appointment of Joyce Wilkerson and celebrate her long-time commitment to the citizens of this city. We look forward to her honoring this continued commitment in moving Philadelphia’s public schools towards local control.
Sheila Armstrong, Co-Chair of POWER’s Education Strategy Team said “This is a significant moment. We have the opportunity to do what’s right for the city by creating a school system that reflects the interests and needs of Philadelphia. The SRC has not lived up to its mandate to serve and educate Philadelphia’s children. We therefore maximize our efforts toward achieving local control.”

In the meantime, the hard work of designing what local governance should look like – elected school board or appointed, how many members, etc. – needs to be researched, thought through, and advocated for by the participating organizations.

POWER, Councilwoman Helen Gym , Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and other City Council members who support this change are holding citywide Town Hall meetings to which all are invited to express their views on this and other local education issues and concerns.

###

POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) is an interfaith organization committed to implementing systemic change for the betterment of Pennsylvania. We represent populace from across the Greater Philadelphia area, transcending borders across race, faith, income level, and neighborhood. Learn more at www.powerinterfaith.org

Leave a Reply