Many of them saying they are holding on to hope that the commission will not vote to close their kids schools.
At the public meeting, several protesters made their way into the meeting area, several of them forming human chains around the doors of the room. One man shouted “we will not let the SRC in!” Police were called in and several arrests were made, and the commission was escorted in.
One arrest, the national head of the American Federation of Teacher Randi Weingarten, tweeted about it “This was action of last resort. Ppl of Philly have tried to make voice heard and they continue to be ignored (staff.)”
Inside, two speakers from each school on the closure list were allowed to speak, those speakers included parents, students, and several lawmakers. You can see some of the highlights from the evening’s speakers below.
At the end of the evening, only 4 schools were spared including T.M. Pierce. You may remember IQ’s Mike Murillo walked with Antione Litttle, who has kids who go the that school. Their walk would have been 35 minutes if Pierce were closed.
During the meeting a lot of yelling and screams from angry protesters as resolutions to close the schools were voted on. Outside the room, several kids and their parents wept after they discovered their school would close.
Councilwoman Janne Blackwell was glad to see four schools survived but is still disappointed by the outcome. “They did not have all of their information, their facts together, they should have honored a moratorium,” Blackwell said.
School Reform Commission Chair Pedro Ramos says this was a result of years f bad decisions by past leaders of the school district. “None of us would ever want to be put in a position of having to make all these tough decisions in the short period of time that we had to make them,” Ramos said. He says they were necessary for Philly schools financially and he says ” we are increasing the opportunity to have a stronger district.”
The school’s spared:
- TM Peirce Elementary School on Cambria Street
- Taylor Elementary School on North Randolph Street
- Robeson High School on Ludlow Street
- Roosevelt Middle School on Washington Lane
- Reynolds Elementary
- Whittier Elementary
- Pratt Elementary
- Ferguson Elementary
- George Washington Elementary
- Abigail Vare Elementary
- Fairhill Elementary
- LP Hill Elementary
- Fulton Elementary
- Kinsey Elementary
- Smith Elementary
- Wilson Elementary
- Leidy Elementary
- Pepper Middle
- Sheridan West Academy
- Vaux Promise Academy
- Carroll High
- Douglas High
- Germantown High
- University City High
- Bok Technical High
- Lamberton High
- Shaw Middle
Here are some of the highlights from the meetings.
8:15 – Fulton, Kinsey, Roosevelt MS close.
8:12 – Dworetzky and Pritchett make a case for Germantown, but Germantown will close.
8:01 – Taylor Saved, Sheridan , Carroll, Douglass will close.
7:59 - Dworetzky makes a case for Promise academy schools, Vaux and Germantown. “i would reject the proposal with respect the academy. ” Wants district to go back to the drawing board.”
7:57 – Whitier and Pratt will close.
7:46 – T.M. Pierce will not close
7:44 – LP Hill and Reynolds, Motion to close.
7:43 - Feather Houstoun asks about leases and Superintendent Hite says they have leases to deal with and are look at re-locating some schools. One option is to put a school in the district headquarters building.
7:41 – SRC Members Q & A
7:31 – Last speaker, Mr. Andrew Salts on South Area school closures. Starts with “I’m gonna keep it real” says he uses that with his students at Robeson High School. says the school has a 90% graduation rate. He says the school they will go to, Sayer High School to only has a 53% graduation rate. “Don’t close Robeson.”
7:30 – Pastor Waller, “A vote to close schools tonight is ill informed.”
7:22 – Mama Gale in support of George Pepper Middle School. “You need to take to visit these schools you are about close and see what you have.” She says the school is setup for vocational education, and is set up well.
7:04 – Rev. Pamela Williams calls for an internal investigation and an audit of the School District of Philadelphia. “We formally request…that the school district of Philadelphia…make available all contracts dated from 1997 up to and include 2013 with a value of $50K or more.
6:59 – Dr. George Schuller, 1963 graduate and former principal of Germantown High School. “If there is a need to consolidate resources, there is a practical way to do it.” “He recommends Folton elementary move in and it turns into a K-12 school. “No need to penalize the kids of Germantown.
6:52 - James Ballengee on Penn Charter school says they are invested in Taylor school’s success.” He says when Penn Charter kids and tecahers visit Taylor “We see an engaged student body, teachers and administration.” He wants Taylor intact and in it’s current location.
6:46 – Mathew Tae of Philly Rotary Club – Bayard Taylor supporter. “Give them a year at least.” He says the school need some time to show the schools potential in test score.
6:36 – Douglass Tolbert, Alumnist of Germantown High school makes a case not to close German town high school. He cited a study saying K-12 schools are an option the district should look at. “Parents become involved in learning process,” since their kids stay in the same building. ”It would be better to build more of them, rather than shutter them.”"Be bold, be daring, and take the road less traveled.
6:30 – Jones says he will work with the district but reminds them that tonight he is here about the school closings.
6:28 – SRC Chair Pedro Ramos invites Councilman Jones and Janne Blackwell to be a part of the safety planning for the city’s schools. “A lot of this is really a concern of the domain you have which is public safety in addition to school safety.”
6:25 – Janne Blackwell is calling for a one year moratorium she talked about the arrests made here this evening. “I am frightened when I see people, leader in education, leaders in our community arrested because they feel passionate about this issue” She says this is about “justice.”
6:21 – Councilman Curtis Jones on the closing Lamberton HS joined by Philly councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. Jones says he doesn’t envy Superintendent Hite but he says “I am deeply concerned about their [the children] public safety”
5:45 – Meeting Begins, two speakers from each school will make their last plea to the SRC before the vote takes place.