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Public schools should be everyone’s priority

News for 03.29.18
03.29.18
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This letter by Pastor Linda Noonan was run by the Chestnut Hill Local. Here is the link to the original publication.

Public schools should be everyone’s priority

Whether we have children in the public schools or not, every Philadelphian should be concerned about the state of our education system. The quality of education we provide for our children will have a direct impact on the quality of life for all Philadelphians.

Parents, educators, students and community groups fought hard to regain local control of Philadelphia schools. These same stakeholders recently stepped up to participate in the nominating process for the new school board with the hope that the true stakeholders in our neighborhood schools will finally have a real say in how the schools they send their children to are run.

It is a great concern that so late in their term, the SRC ignored input of those closest to the schools and committed $20 million in software and automated learning technology when many of our schools lack the basic infrastructure, such as adequate electrical systems, to even run it. In addition, many of the schools and their constituents feel strongly that that additional staff, librarians, and skilled adults who will work directly with our children are higher priorities than technology that leads to more automated learning and less student-teacher interaction.

As the new Philadelphia Board of Education comes together with the promise to create the kind of quality schools the people have been fighting for and deserve, one of the biggest challenges they face is how we will pay for it. Mayor Kenney has promised that the city will step up to the challenge of increasing the local share of school funds.

While many of us continue to advocate strongly for increased and more equitably distributed money from Harrisburg, I and others believe we can be innovators in how we raise the local share of funding for our schools, including sources other than raising property taxes which will make it possible for us to meet looming budget deficits, including essential infrastructure repair, without further burdening low and middle income Philadelphians.

All our children deserve to develop mentally, emotionally, and physically in safe and enriched schools. Our teachers deserve support for the work they do in sharing the future not only of the students in their classrooms, but the future of entire communities. Good schools contribute to healthy neighborhoods and a vibrant city. The state of our schools should matter to us all.

Linda Noonan
Senior Pastor,
Chestnut Hill United Church