Barbara Dowdall SRC testimony transcript – September 15, 2016

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Suspending Kindergarten and Other Suspensions via School Libraries

Good afternoon. I begin with a poem portion:


Projet de Poésie Arménienne

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sharon Olds: Mrs. Krikorian

She saved me. When I arrived in 6th grade,
a known criminal, the new teacher
asked me to stay after school the first day, she said
I’ve heard about you. She was a tall woman,
with a deep crevice between her breasts,
and a large, calm nose. She said,
This is a special library pass.
As soon as you finish your hour’s work—
that hour’s work that took ten minutes
and then the devil glanced into the room
and found me empty, a house standing open—
you can go to the library. Every hour
I’d zip through the work in a dash and slip out of my
seat as if out of God’s side and sail
down to the library, solo through the empty
powerful halls, flash my pass
and stroll over to the dictionary
to look up the most interesting word
I knew, spank, dipping two fingers
into the jar of library paste to
suck that tart mucilage as I
came to the page with the cocker spaniel’s
silks curling up like the fine steam of the body.
After spank, and breast, I’d move on
to Abe Lincoln and Helen Keller,
safe in their goodness till the bell, thanks
to Mrs. Krikorian, amiable giantess
with the kind eyes.

When my niece Julia entered kindergarten at Charles W. Henry School in Mt. Airy in 2009, and her sister Sarah followed in 2012, its lovely library welcomed them. I joined parents and grandparents in that warm space for Henry’s 2nd grade class Mother’s Day Tea. By the time my goddaughters Freya and JJ entered Henry’s kindergarten, two years ago and yesterday, the books were gone and the warm space that could provide refuge and reading for a recalcitrant youngster is now a lunchroom. The SRC’s inexorable march to library extinction in the schools the state was so eager to “improve” — beginning in 2001– is near completion.

The data is clear: the presence of a professionally-staffed fully-resourced school library raises test scores. (NAEP)

Every public school superintendent and every principal can confirm this.

And an administrative body can look into their own school memories, into the school lives of their children and grandchildren, and into their hearts, to acknowledge that the youngsters in their care deserve as much.early-readers-retreat

Barbara McDowell Dowdall    English Department Head (Retired)                                                           A. Philip Randolph Career Tech High School
Member, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS)