Testimony of Barbara Dowdall to the Board of Education, September 19, 2019

School District of Dreams

In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, a disembodied voice tells an Iowa farmer, “If you build it, he will come.” More prosaically, “If you believe the impossible, the incredible can come true.” For the farmer, it was a dream he already had, of the baseball greats from the dishonored Chicago White Sox of 1919 appearing on his field to play.

Philadelphia public school students, parents, staff and community members want this Board of Education to be the farmer who hears their voices and shares their dreams– voices sometimes whispering with hope of true equity of resources, of restored libraries with librarians, of enriching after school extra curriculars, of small classes, of safe and healthy buildings; and sometimes crying out in anguish at the closing of their neighborhood schools; voices that found their way to sixteen years of SRC ears without finding a hint of shared vision and dreams. So we say to you today, hear these voices and show us that you share these dreams. Build a district and beautiful days will come.

Next month I will share my dream of bringing a public school back to the heart of my community: Germantown. [Provided school members with Germantown Fulton Campus Coalition brochures*]

*First drawings of proposed development for site inexplicably included a sign “Charter School.” No reason or details provided.

Barbara McDowell Dowdall, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS)