Transcript of the testimony of Barbara Dowdall to the SRC May 17, 2018

Click the picture and move to timestamp 7:37 to view Barbara’s testimony.


Barbara Dowdall


Remarks to the School Reform Commission and

Superintendent Dr. William Hite   April 26, 2018

Asa Philip Randolph Library

A recent philly.com article addressed the widespread lack of information that Philadelphia public school students often have in regard to the names of their schools. (I will need to consult a Certified School Librarian for assistance in locating the article on the internet.) Though A. Philip Randolph, 20thcentury labor union and civil rights giant is unknown to the general public, students at his namesake school generally are both knowledgeable and proud. They deserve, nevertheless, to have a fully-functioning school library where a corner could be devoted to the substantial number of volumes devoted to his life.

1975
A. Philip Randolph Skills Center opens on Henry Avenue in a re-purposed factory. Randolph himself attended the opening ceremonies. Randolph Skills had a library and a Certified Teacher Librarian. Books stamped “Randolph Skills” still appear mysteriously around the city.

1993
Randolph is linked administratively to Murrell Dobbins: Dobbins/Randolph Area Vocational Technical School (AVTS): One Great School; Two Campuses. One certified teacher librarian and one library assistant shared between the two buildings.

2004
Dobbins and Randolph are separated (except for the football team). Dobbins retains the CTL. Randolph retains our LIMA.

2005
Randolph library resources are severely curtailed and library assistant faces transfer. SRC is presented with petition signed by 140 students and staff in appeal for retention of LIMA. LIMA transfers to John B. Kelley Elementary.

2006
SRC under Paul Vallas provides funds for a Certified Teacher Librarian. Support eliminated after 2 years.

 2008
Randolph library gutted. No professional staff. Books replaced with computers and room re-named “Success Center.” Ten years without a library and ten years of receiving students whose elementary and middle schools were also more and more likely to lack this essential resource.A. Philip Randolph

Endnote: With time remaining on the clock, Dowdall reminded SRC, and asked for return, of books she had entrusted to their care pending restoration of Randolph’s library (including a volume about AP Randolph’s civil rights associate Bayard Rustin) — an event’s likelihood rapidly disappearing in run up to school board’s July 1st advent. At conclusion of meeting, Superintendent Hite, having taken the opportunity to read at least two of the books, promised their return.