Testimony of Barbara McDowell Dowdall to the BOE, August 20, 2020

As the grandparent of a child with mild hearing loss who has worn hearing aids from the age of 5 months, and friend and relative of many others with similar challenges, very few of whom need or use sign language, I request that you add closed captioning to your assistance for persons with auditory differences.

I speak this evening in enthusiastic support for proposed Black Lives Matter Resolution Number 26. Although puzzingly long overdue, the school district’s support for and active involvement with Black Lives Matter Week of Action- Philly will be a welcome resource for everyone: staff, students, families and the community at large. The wide-ranging and in-depth research and resultant programs rich in Black history and literature provided by both this amazing group and their associate entity Melinated Educators will profoundly supplement and enhance current school district offerings, including the 10 th grade required African American History course. This information, of course, should be woven into our entire K-12 curricula.

Outstanding in my memory is the 2018 program presented at Kensington CAPA Saturday, February 10th . After the keynote address by Dana King, longtime Philly educator and major contributor to the SDP 10 th grade course, a wide variety of workshops followed. Attendees: current and retired educators across all levels and subject areas, students and community ​members had the opportunity to learn from and respond to an amazing student-created poster display on the history of policing in American public schools from Los Angeles in the 1940’s to Philadelphia’s student protest 1967 to Richard Nixon in the 1970’s. Photographs of some posters are provided here (to be emailed to Board members). Further details on that day’s programs, including an afternoon panel discussion can be provided by current school board member Ameen Akbar. Mr. Akbar was on the panel!

On a personal note, I was grateful to Black Lives Matter Week of Action- Philly for encouraging me and to the principal and African American History teacher at A. Philip Randolph Career Tech High School for welcoming me in returning and sharing with the class the details of my father and Mr. Randolph’s shared history in the 1930’s Socialist Party.

The approval I am expecting today, however, is actually the easy part. Achieving the equity that will provide a clear message to students of color that they are valued and valuable will require a complete turnaround from the scattershot, haphazard, grossly inequitable provision of essentials in every school including but not limited to: small class sizes; clean, safe and appealing physical plants; libraries with Certified Teacher Librarians; playgrounds; 9 th grade transition support; art; music; student newspapers. We will know now — with this vote – how to judge your efforts.

Thank you.​