[Post your photos using the hashtag #TEACHOURKIDS and help avoid an educational crisis for students as they shelter-in-place.]
Our Children Must Continue to Learn
We know that a crisis can bring out the best of us and the worst of us. We laud the compassionate and complicated challenges met by leaders of school districts across the region to make sure children don’t go hungry.
We want every principal, teacher and school support staff who are reaching out to students everyday encouraging them with lessons, tutorials and creating a vast array of inspired resources to keep students engaged, to know that we are indebted to their commitment to our children. But we are outraged that this amazing support for students is happening underground, shrouded in secrecy to avoid being caught by the Pennsylvania Department of Education whose edict called for a suspension of all instruction unless the District can demonstrate it can ensure that every child is afforded the same opportunity to learn.
The Department claims their order to suspend all instruction is motivated by ensuring that every child is afforded equal access to educational resources. But their action most certainly begs the question of why they did not issue a statewide suspension of instruction before the crisis. The Department has known for quite some time that Pennsylvania has the greatest educational disparity in the nation.
Worst yet, the Department’s requirements demonstrate a lack of capacity, skills or knowledge at the state level. We needed the state Department of Education to lead for our kids by issuing the complete opposite order of requiring every district to put the tools in place so that every child could continue to learn through the crisis. The Department should have backed-up that order with all needed resources to make that happen.
Philadelphia’s students cannot wait for the Commonwealth to come to its senses. Instead, the Philadelphia School District must act swiftly to restore instruction to our children. Thirty-seven school districts in the region have already made the effort to deploy computers and teacher support so that many, if not all, of their students can continue to learn. Many of those districts have more resources at their disposal but many are districts that are also significantly underfunded.
Across the nation, large districts including New York City, Boston, Miami and Broward County established a clear goal of putting wireless devices in the hands of 1.7 million students, and in most cases have backed up that hardware with thoughtful teacher training and support, and instruction is underway.
We were thrilled to hear the Superintendent announce that the District is planning to make technology available. But as of yet, no timelines for when instruction will resume have been established. We urge the Philadelphia School District to accelerate its process so that teachers can teach and kids can learn.
The School Board and Superintendent must:
- Provide clarity regarding when dissemination of technology will commence so that we can have confidence that the digital divide is quickly being bridged and instruction can proceed.
- Announce when the District will roll out a plan for online and home-based instruction. We understand that such a plan will get better and more detailed over time.
- Provide details for when and what will be included in a plan to support home-based instruction for special education students and English Language Learners.
We are asking parents from across the city to join PCCY in calling for instruction to commence, ASAP. PCCY is calling on all concerned parents and residents to join its virtual rally beginning Tuesday, March 24th through the school board meeting Thursday, March 26th to call on the District to TEACH OUR KIDS NOW. Philadelphians are urged to make signs and post them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and send emails to Dr. Hite and all School Board members.
On Twitter, include in your tweets, #TEACHOURKIDS AND #PHLed and include as many of these handles as you can in your message:
- Mallory Fix Lopez – @FixMallory
- Lee Huang – @leehuang
- Angeal McIver – @angelamciver
- Bill Hite – @SDPHite
- School District – @PHLschools
- School Board – @PHLschoolboard
- PCCY – @pccyteam
To listen in to the School Board Meeting go to https://www.philasd.org/schoolboard/action-meetings/live-stream