Letters: Readers react to school crisis

THE PHILADELPHIA School Partnership shares the frustration of Will Bunch and Solomon Jones over continuing unequal access to a great education in our city ("SRC Is Rigged Against City's Pupils," Jan. 26). But the facts do not support their assertion that the situation has worsened under the SRC for poor and minority students.

Since the School Reform Commission was formed in 2001, Philadelphia has dramatically narrowed achievement gaps for poor and minority students. Pre-SRC, fewer than 15 percent of economically disadvantaged fifth-graders in Philadelphia were reading at grade level, far below the state's all-student average of 57 percent. By 2014, while the state average remained nearly the same, the number of Philadelphia's low-income students reading on grade level doubled to 30 percent. Similarly, the graduation rate for black students in Philadelphia increased from just 41 percent in 2001 to 69 percent in 2014.

On any number of other measures, there has been comparable improvement for low-income and minority students. We still have a long way to go to achieve equity, but if we are to come together as a city to accelerate progress, we have to keep the debate grounded in what's really happening.

Mark Gleason

Executive Director

Philadelphia School Partnership

We applaud the SRC's recent and courageous vote to invite Mastery Charter Schools to submit a charter application for Wister Elementary.

Are we willing to be a city that accepts the status quo at Wister, where nearly six in 10 students in kindergarten, first and second grades are failing to read on grade level? Or a school where 96 percent of students fail to achieve math proficiency? Staying the course with Wister would be like the Eagles, had they stuck with Chip Kelly despite plenty of evidence that his record had failed. Owner Jeff Lurie realized this and fired Kelly. It would be unconscionable had we prematurely "fired" the students at Wister and took away the glimmer of hope brought by the possibility of a Renaissance turnaround.

Mastery is an organization with a proven track record in turning around struggling schools like Wister. Like the Eagles, the children at Wister deserve the opportunity to benefit from a proven and successful approach.

With the hire of Doug Pederson as coach, the Eagles moved in that direction. We are heartened that the SRC voted to do the same.

Amy Ruck Kagan

Executive Director, PCE

Solomon, thank you for the great piece, "School Reform Commission rigged against Philadelphia school children," which exposed the ongoing attack on our public schools and their children. You are pulling the curtain to expose the fraud wizard.

Diane Payne

Retired teacher,

Public School advocate


Anyone who has watched Republican governors and legislators at work should notice a pattern here, whether the subject is traffic tickets in Ferguson, Mo., right-to-work laws in Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida, or water sourcing in Flint, Mich., that poisoned thousands of citizens without recourse.

The SRC situation is of somewhat longer standing, but has failed to alter the commonwealth's unwillingness to fund its constitutional obligation to educate Pennsylvania's youth. The only way we are going to change this creeping denial of democracy is to turn out in large numbers on Election Day to turn these creeps out of office. And we will have to put our money where our mouth is. This won't come cheap, and some of the worst actors are long past punishment.

Ben Burrows

Elkins Park, Pa.

Bykofsky right on

about Mayor Kenney

Thank you, Stu Bykofsky, for your articles on Mayor Kenney. I didn't vote for him partly because I thought he was a bully (Dan Cathy and Chik-fil-A), not very bright, and too tied to special interests. Now I'm really glad I didn't because he's whiny now. I couldn't believe his comments about the shooting of Officer Jesse Hartnett having nothing to do with Islam. I'm no expert on Islam, but have studied it and have traveled in the Middle East (including a taxi ride from Beirut to Damascus several years ago).

Anyway, Kenney showed how ignorant he is of Islam and the Koran. Now that the FBI is investigating, it would be refreshing him to admit he was wrong. If he did that, I'd actually think better of him. As a side note, my wife works with a lady from South Philly. She told my wife she voted for him because he was from the neighborhood but didn't realize that he was such an idiot (her word). Please keep up the good work.

Steve Davis