A grass-roots organization of parents, community members, and school staff, fighting to defend public education. We work together to provide analysis and demand accountability from the School District of Philadelphia to provide students with a high-quality education.
The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools is a grass-roots organization of parents, community members, and school staff—including teachers, school nurses, librarians, counselors and safety staff—dedicated to the preservation of public schools. APPS is an independent organization with no political or union affiliation. We are entirely self-funded and do not take financial donations from outside sources. All members donate their time and receive no salary.
A Philadelphia Inquirerarticle published the day before this meeting told of the crisis at Dobbins High School and the ongoing danger to both students and staff. To longtime observers, it came as no surprise that Superintendent Tony Watlington, Sr., in his opening remarks, made no attempt to address the charges of administrative failure leveled by Dobbins parents, nor did any Board member ask him to address the safety issues raised in the article. Not a word was heard until Dobbins’ parent Antoine Little testified and demanded action. Like his predecessor, Watlington responded by asking a district staffer to speak to the parent outside rather than address the issue openly.
Ironically, the Guardrail discussed at this meeting was Guardrail 1, Safe and Supportive School Environment. Once again, the Board opted to hash out obscure data rather than deal with the lived reality of the students and staff at Dobbins.
The Transition Team appointed by Superintendent Tony Watlington and the consulting firm of Shawn Joseph and Associates presented its findings, compiled in a 29-page, multi-color pamphlet. Some of Watlington’s actions during his heralded “First 100 Days” have raised concerns rather than hope for many, especially his failure to embrace a plan rooted in education research of the whole child in favor of retaining the status quo of privatization, outsourcing and standardized testing. Most jarring is Watlington’s demotion of parents and community members from that of stakeholders in the common good of public education to “customers”. Watlington has even created a new administrative position, “Chief of Communications and Customer Service”; he hired Alexandra Coppadge to fill it. This disrespectful action reveals Watlington’s lack of understanding of the role of parents, educators, students and community members as members of school communities advocating for safe and healthy schools; he sees them as consumers buying a product, which relegates educators to the status of store managers and students to commodities.
“I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.” James Baldwin
Never has a quote been more fitting than with the Philadelphia Board of Education and its new administration. Superintendent Tony Watlington, Sr. comes out of the gate reinstituting the odious practice of leveling–now rebranded as “Enrollment-Driven Resource Review”. Classes that have already established their routines and built relationships over the past month will be turned upside down. The district will again target classrooms that have not reached maximum enrollment allowed under the PFT contract, as if that were a problem to be corrected instead of a more nurturing learning environment. Classes will be collapsed and students will be dispersed to start all over with another teacher and new group of students. Why does the district do this? To save money. Not one board member responded to any of the students or parents who testified against it, nor did they raise it at any time during the 5 ½ hour meeting. The maximum number of students in grades K-3 is 30; in grades 4 through 12 it is 33. Students in the more affluent districts around Philadelphia, where class size is nowhere near that of Philadelphia, don’t have to endure the disruption of leveling.