Silencing Voices of Philadelphians Who Care about Their Public Schools

by Diane Payne

I, along with all believers in Democracy, demand that you remove the cap that silences the voices of Philadelphians who care about their schools.  I doubt it is a coincidence that Hite’s push for an unsafe reopening comes a day before the meeting when speakers are capped.  You all knew there would be an outcry.  You are taking advantage of the cover that the dangers of the pandemic bring to abuse your power and shut us down.  We will not forget this shameful moment.  Why are you not bringing Jerry Jordan and Jerry Roseman to testify on the safety of the reopening plan?  Where in the District’s presentation can this be found? I demand our voices be released from your capped prison and given back their 3 measly minutes to air our concerns, problems, and questions.   

These are our schools, our children, our loved ones, and you represent us.  The sneaky and underhanded way you changed this policy only highlights the truth of what I am saying.  You tout the Goals and Guardrails as having community involvement.  I say that is untrue.  Having a student and teacher Town hall in November and December is closing the barn door after the horse is out; it was a done deal by that point.  Having secret Community and Parent Advisory Council meetings is also not public involvement.  Which advocates or advocate groups who testify before you month after month was invited to the Goals and Guardrails table?  This is another autocratic plan, with token public engagement.  It utilizes ever more edu-jargon and garners no trust or buy-in from those you are pushing it on.   

A parting question for you….how many people were shut out of speaking tonight?  Do you know?  Do you care?  I think most of us know the answers to those questions.  You don’t know how many and you don’t care.  

We are not the CEOs of the city, nor the Foundation Presidents, nor do we hobnob with the city’s power structure.  We are the parents, students, staff, and community members of Philadelphia and our voices matter