I am writing this letter as a parent and former School District of Philadelphia teacher. If you have not filed a complaint in regard to the Philadelphia School Crisis please do so. You can go to myphilly.com and immediately send one digitally. I have been amazed at how many parents continue to be unaware of the complaint process, and how many do not realize that this may be our children’s last hope. State funding continues to be held hostage and nearly 2,000 employees have not returned to the School District of Philadelphia. Each time, I volunteer at my daughter’s school I am reminded of the steep cliff we are all on.
I have spoken to members of the Philadelphia Student Union who informed me that some of their classes have 45 students in them. There is not enough furniture in some classrooms. Recently, teachers have received emails about new assignments or pending layoffs as a result of leveling. 8th and 12th graders will have little to no counselor assistance when it comes to high school and college applications. The Acting Secretary of Education should have in her office 142,000 complaints or more representing each of the students in the district.
The Pennsylvania state constitution mandates that students be provided with a “thorough and efficient system of public education.” The state code requires:
- Curriculum mandates including instruction in art, music, dance, and theater
- comprehensive and integrated K-12 student services” specifically including guidance counseling services
- schools to have “sufficient numbers of qualified professional employees” to enforce the curriculum requirements
If children are being denied the aforementioned services, you have the right to file a complaint, and the Secretary of Education has the responsibility to investigate any complaints of deficiency.
Parents, teachers, educators, and parents please file complaints as frequently as possible. Make sure your language is very specific. For example: My daughter has to schedule an appointment to see the counselor once a week and there is already a 2 week backlog when she requested a time. Or, My son does not receive art class as a result of budget cuts and the state constitution mandates that art, music, dance, and theater are mandated curriculum.
Parents United for Public Education will send a representative out for regional or school based meetings to provide necessary information and guidance in the complaint process. You can contact Helen Gym at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I understand that all schools may not be overcrowded, but they are all unsafe. I have seen administrators teach art and be noon time aids in addition to their other responsibilities. I have seen students sitting on radiators when there are not enough desks. I have seen altercations and negative social behaviors escalate without any guidance counselor to provide any emotional/behavioral support. I have seen students succumb to the bullying as victims and perpetrators without little to no adult support because guess what? There are not enough adults working in any building.
This is ridiculous and I do not think some of us (parents) are angry enough. Well I am pissed off that I live in a state where the governor continues to make negative comments about public schools, continues to not fund them, and celebrates prisons with over 400 million dollars. Join me in my anger and let your words do the talking. Share your complaints and make sure that your child’s voice is heard. Make sure that Pennsylvania knows that Philadelphia is to be taken seriously and that we matter. Our children matter!