Transcript of Testimony of Barbara McDowell Dowdall at the SRC Meeting August 20, 2015

barbara mcdowell

Remarks to the School Reform Commission and Dr. Hite

August 20, 2015

Resources for Lesson Planning

Hi. I am Barbara McDowell Dowdall.

Retired teacher.

Member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS)

Yale National Teachers Initiative and Teachers Institute of Philadelphia (TIP) Fellow 2005 through 2010.

I mention the latter because the Yale University/New Haven Public School partnership that began in 1978, providing K-12 public school teachers with in-depth, subject-rich free seminars with tenured university faculty, yielding thoroughly-researched background information and challenging classroom activities for students, are all easily available on the web – by the thousands. Ripe for accessing by teachers in the Philadelphia public schools, who, having had the benefit of commonwealth supervision for close to 14 years, cannot possibly be described as under-served in staff development. I assume that the presence of that term in the Resolution regarding a program with Mastery Charter providing staff development for school district teachers is a simple typo.

Even with correction of the typo, however, the overall Resolution and amount of money involved seem to be drawn from the textbook on school administration that seems to be fundamental to operations here in the years following establishment of the SRC and currently undergoing a rapid acceleration of implementation, namely: 101 Ways to Demoralize School District Professional Staff.

The gentle folk here assembled at the front table must surely know that their very own teachers – hired, trained, supervised and evaluated by central office staff and school-based administrators hired, trained, supervised and evaluated by your very selves are replete with talented, qualified, experienced, and in many cases inspiring instructional leaders who could and would, at very little expense (since they are already on the payroll) on staff development days – teachers from great schools like Masterman, Central, Penn Alexander, Science Leadership Academy – and even or especially, as my Dobbins English Department colleagues, gathered this afternoon for a reunion noted, from low scoring schools – provide quality staff development equal or even superior in quality to that proposed by Mastery Charter.

On a personal note, I would like to acknowledge my appreciation for the SRC agreeing to settle the APPS lawsuit* regarding freedom of speech and sign waving, as the opportunity provided me to lavish hundreds of dollars on students, schools, and community institutions like the Wissahickon Boys and Girls Club and the previously mentioned Teachers Institute of Philadelphia, gave me, in a combination of the old TV shows, The Millionaire and Queen for a Day the feeling of being Mark Gleason for a Day!

Post 3-minute limit addendum:

So today, I presented a check for $1,000 to the A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical High School Student Activity Fund. I was especially proud to serve as English Department Head at Randolph (seven years in concert with Murrell Dobbins) because my father, Arthur G. McDowell, was acquainted with Randolph in the Socialist Party in the 1930’s and gave my brother Arthur the middle name Philip as tribute. Brother Arthur’s grandson Ian carries “Randolph” as his middle name. Also delighted that I could pay tribute to “Phil” as my dad called him with two curriculum units, both available on the web by entering their titles in a search box:

“Citizen Voices in Peace and War”

“African Americans and Shakespeare: Partners in Search of Humanity”

Asa Philip Randolph, besides being one of the premier civil rights leaders of the 20th century, was a top drawer though amateur Shakespearean actor, claiming every title role in the plays produced by Ye Friends of Shakespeare in Harlem in the 1920’s.

• “It’s safe to sport signs at SRC meetings again”