Barbara Dowdall’s SRC testimony transcript – November 15, 2016

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Good afternoon. My name is Barbara McDowell Dowdall. I am retired as English Department Head at A. Philip Randolph Technical High School, retiring as editor of the Girls’ High Alumnae News [herewith presentation of cover poster from our last all-print edition depicting the history of our 168 year old college preparatory school] and continuing as a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS).

In my travels around the school district dropping off donated magazines for schools without certified teacher librarians (95% and growing), I encounter aspects of physical plant that evidence neglect and lack of caring.

student-bathroom

This photo of a toilet in a student bathroom was taken in September. I had noticed it last June and was dismayed to find it still ensconced in plastic after the summer break. Can you pledge the repair and maintenance of every student commode in the schools remaining under your administration — with functioning faucets, adequate supplies of toilet paper, soap and paper towels or electric hand driers? (perhaps even for school staff bathrooms as well?)

The second photo is the sweet rug in the room formerly known as “Library” at another school where a person from Cambridge, a group hired by you for the not-so-sweet sum of $200,000 was inquiring of parents, staff and community members what their school needs and would like to have.

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How puzzling that 440 N Broad (Eli Broad?), with a leader recently affirmed by a 5-year contract extension and supported by a robust, highly qualified central office staff, many of whom were attending the very same session at John Marshall Elementary School, could just as easily, and perhaps more effectively, gathered the information itself!

You might even take a wild guess and begin by restoring all staff and services lost to the doomsday budget. Follow up with reductions in class size, restoration of fully-resourced and professionally staffed libraries, then add in playgrounds for elementary school students, enrichment of art, music and drama in every school and whatever else you might glean by spending a day or two in nearby Lower Merion Schools. This approach might yield impressive results and eliminate the need to re-structure, redesign, and upend the staff of this year’s targeted schools.