Two powerful opinion pieces

Two opinion pieces ran in Philadelphia papers this week that are worth a closer read. While reflecting on the ongoing citywide discussion around closing under-enrolled schools, both arguments focus on academic outcomes and make the strong case for more high-quality schools in our city.

In the Tribune, Committee of Seventy Board Member Mike Pearson argues:

“I am an African American father of a public school student… A careful look at the data suggests there is an injustice underway that’s far greater than the act of school closings… An overwhelming majority of African American students in the schools slated to close are being denied the basic literacy and math needed for success in the college or the work world.Read more here (PDF).

Similarly, in the Daily News, Superintendent Bill Hite writes:

“District wide, fewer than half of all students perform at grade level in math and reading. The number is even lower at nearly all of the schools recommended for closure. Some schools’ proficiency levels hover near the single digits. Doing nothing, if only for a year, would mean another year of lost learning.Read more here.

Closing schools is an incredibly difficult and painful process. We greatly appreciate the powerful voices of vocal parents who have come out over the past two months to advocate for their neighborhoods and question the closings. Their concern is harrowing because we know that this city does not yet offer enough educational opportunities for all; but we also know these closings are one step in a much broader and ambitious effort to move towards a day when every child in every neighborhood in Philadelphia has access to a high-quality school.

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