Testimony of Barbara McDowell Dowdall to the BOE, May 28, 2020

Equity in Essentials

As our school system recovers from 16 years of state control, we already knew the importance of restoring libraries with Certified Teacher Librarians to the 200+ schools outside the circle of privilege and prioritizing the proper proportion of counselors to students.

The Corona virus crisis provided stark attention to longstanding inequity in our youngsters’ access to internet for at-home assignments, exacerbated by the absence of school librarian instruction in effective research strategies.
As we anxiously and hopefully approach the fall term, another essential cries out for system-wide support and equity: the transition programs for students entering high school: here where students are already unready for high school level term paper research, having gone K-8 with zero libraries and CTL’s in their elementary, middle and K-8 schools; coming from a wide diversity of K-8 experiences; and the unfathomable disruption in the last quarter of this school year. Not providing systematic system-wide budget-guaranteed resources drives conscientious but desperate principals to seek funding from sources like the Philadelphia School Partnership, an organization that provides most of its tax-advantaged manna to charters and private religious schools, yet wields its wealth-derived and out-sized (and opaque) influence on our traditional public schools, even as its director publicly, and without credible data, recently claimed that charters and private schools had better results than our traditional public schools in virus crisis online learning.

Here is a place, where the blessing of our fiercely-fought-for and delightfully-restored and celebrated return to local control can be demonstrated by guaranteed provision of funding to support principal and school-staff planning for this critical new adventure in students’ lives. (One resource, of many available, attached).

Examples of Middle to High School Transition Programs: