Invest in Our Children

by Molly McGlone 4.22.2021

Good evening.  I am a parent of 3 children who attend 6th, 2nd and Kindergarten at Henry C Lea Elementary where I have been an active parent in the school for the last 10 years.  In my time on the School Advisory Council, I have worked with 5 different Principals and seen families join our community to make a difference only to be overworked to the point of exhaustion and disappointed with the glacial pace of change.  This March, as in every budget season I can remember, the Principal presented the dismal budget for next year- this time we are losing 4 positions.  Our facilities have been an ongoing struggle, I can’t remember a single SAC meeting where asbestos, lead, and mold that results from our leaky 100-year old roof were not on the agenda.  Last year, at CSPR gatherings I heard from families and teachers at Lamberton and Cassidy in West Philly whose building conditions were even worse than ours.  Now, the conditions that COVID and the relentless violence against black, brown, and Asian people in our community have exacerbated the mental health needs, social emotional needs, and academic needs of our community.  To see a budget that slashes our current funding with no clear plan for the Recovery Act’s investment in our schools is simply unacceptable.  We need to ensure equitable resource distribution by doing 3 things: 1. A people’s facilities master plan to identify issues, prioritize high-need schools and issues. To do so, we should create 2. An equitable resource council by region of the city, and NOT by SDP network which segregates schools by resources and divides us rather than uniting us by geography and neighborhood.  These regional networks should be made up of principals, building engineers, teachers, parents, and community stakeholders that oversee the process, identify high need schools, and hold us all accountable in the investment we will make over the next four years.  Finally, we need point # 3adequate personnel in our schools. That means 5 positions at every school funded on the district’s centrally allocated budget including literacy, math and special ed leads, a climate manager, and an Assistant principal in EACH school in the district.  There are schools only a mile away that spend almost $20,000 more per student than what our kids get.  I ask that you invest in our kids now and let’s work together to convince the City Council, the State of Pennsylvania, and the Federal Government to rise to meet our needs over the next 4 years.  Thank you for your time.