Do the Right Thing to Gain Back Community Trust

by Stephanie Fahringer 4.22.2021

My name is Stephanie Fahringer, and I am a parent of a first grader at Henry C. Lea Elementary.  

We can all agree that this past year has been incredibly difficult and traumatic. We have all experienced the overwhelming weight of stress, grief, racism, and blatant injustice.  In many ways, it is easier to remain hopeless and just try to get by. Let’s not let the way we fund our schools be an example of that. Lea is slated to lose four staff members, and I know that is not unique to us. We, like too many District schools, have ongoing facilities issues with no clear plan forward.  We have students, including those in our first grade, who have suffered academically from 3 months with inconsistent instruction and a year of virtual learning.

I ask you all today to consider this budget as a moment to fight for hope and not just get by.  The pandemic has exposed injustices that have existed for decades, and I want you to consider how the action you take could turn the tide in Philadelphia. You can choose to give our kids the consistent staff support and safe buildings they need to recover from this pandemic and actually thrive.

First, commit to providing 5 centrally budgeted positions in every K-8 District school: Assistant Principal, fully released lead Literacy and Math Teachers, Special Education Compliance Monitor, and Climate Manager.  Stop forcing principals to decide between academics and climate, between reading and math every year.  Give kids the stability and excellence of staff they deserve

Second, create a transparent people’s facilities master plan to identify issues and prioritize investment in high-need schools first. Make every school safe, not just the lucky few.

I ask that you genuinely consider this moment as an opportunity to do the right thing — to fight for hope, continue to show our families that you are really listening, and gain back community trust.  Thank you.