System-wide changes needed to racist practices

Board of Education testimony 5/27/21

by Stephanie King

Good evening. My name is Stephanie King and I am the parent of a Kearny 1st grader and Masterman 5th grader. Earlier this year, I told you Goals & Guardrails would be just words if you weren’t willing to think about system-wide changes. This laughably scant report tonight on racist practices shows how right I was. Until you’re ready to admit that YOU built the tracks that create on-track and off-track schools, nothing will change.

1/3rd of Central’s student body comes from private schools. 99% of Masterman’s high school students come from their Middle school, because you haven’t created a single other school that’s up to that standard. Half of Masterman’s admits are from private schools or a handful of the whitest, wealthiest schools in the city.

1 out of every 10 white public school students in Philadelphia is at a magnet school.

In your report, Group D or higher-tier schools have 5 times as many White & Asian students as Group A, while having ¼ as many Black & Hispanic students. This is not about ability. This is about where the students are. 

No amount of entrance interviews can overcome the fact that you have put the responsibility for adequately staffed and funded elementary schools back onto neighborhoods. No amount of enrollment targets can overcome systemic racism if you’re going to let parents use private schools to cheat the system until they deign to come in and take seats at Masterman and Central away from real public-school students. 

You spend $1.4 million a year for the office of Student Enrollment & Placement and about $100,000 a year advertising Find Your Fit. What if you made schools fit our students, instead of asking them to find theirs? What if you directed your time & energy into more equitable enrollment patterns? What if you stopped making every decision out of fear that white parents would move to the suburbs if you don’t roll out the red carpet for them on the way to select schools?

Dropping the PSSA is great. But I haven’t heard any proposals for real, structural change that acknowledges your role in creating the problem.