Pathways to Safety

Remarks to Philadelphia Board of Education and
Superintendent Dr. Tony Watlington
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS)
Grand and God Parent of Students in Philadelphia public schools,
grades 3, 5 and 8.
Kindergartner starts in the fall

by Barbara McDowell Dowdall

We learn every day that no one is safe in our gun mad United States,
including Philadelphia — both inside and outside our schools. APPS
member families and their students have been no exception to these
It is understandable that the Board this evening is considering taking
action in a variety of areas: Active Shooter Training (sounds horrifying)
that will include “age appropriate books and activities for elementary
aged students related to active shooter and emergency response
preparation,” additional funds to the Philadelphia Police Department, and
Flourish Agenda Healing Centered Engagement with Dr. Shawn Ginwright
for 15 schools
Despite frightening shooting incidents, one fatal to a student, outside
Roxborough, Overbrook and Lincoln High Schools, our students during
the school day are overall in a generally safe environment. The trauma care
that so many of our young people require from loss of friends and family
to violence with guns in our neighborhoods can be provided consistently
by the counselors who know them (provided we achieve recommended staff/student ratio) and safe spaces within our buildings that include
libraries, both refuge and treasure trove of books for solace and joy.
And most of all, let us, as caring adults with agency, provide advocacy
and opportunities for student advocacy in gun safety efforts. As Mister
Rogers said after September 11 th , let us help our youngsters look for and
join with the helpers, helpers like Cease Fire PA, Mothers in Charge, Brady
United, Sandy Hook Promise, and March for Our Lives. Let this board,
perhaps, be the source of active encouragement and facilitating of
opportunities for students to hone their public speaking skills both in the
classroom and right here at monthly action meetings.