WASHINGTON— Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the release of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools education reform plan:
"Real public education reform comes from the bottom up with teachers, parents and communities working together to help all children thrive. That's community-driven reform. It's how we can make every school a school where parents want to send their kids and teachers want to teach.
"The coalition has spent months listening to the voices of educators, parents, students and community leaders across the city to develop solutions that have the support and input of the people who educate, learn and live there. The resulting plan is both solution-based and community driven. And it correctly calls for an immediate moratorium on school closings until a full community-impact analysis is completed and released to the public.
"Rather than simply calling out what doesn't work, the coalition is building on what does work. Its plan calls on Philadelphia to build upon proven reform strategies from across the country, such as transforming schools into community hubs; providing students a rich, well-rounded and culturally relevant curriculum; and creating an accountability and assessment system that supports improved teaching and learning.
"We call on the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, the School District of Philadelphia and Mayor Michael Nutter to embrace these reforms, which are intended to help all children, rather than continue the status quo of cutting budgets, closing schools, ignoring community input and finger-pointing when the test-fixated, top-down approaches have failed. For too long, parents and the community have been left out of efforts to transform our public schools. It is time to listen to our parents. It is time to re-engage our communities."
The components of the Philadelphia Community Education Plan are:
- High-Quality Learning Conditions: Ensure that every student has access to appropriate facilities and learning materials, and that every school is properly staffed.
- Comprehensive Student Supports: Adopt a holistic approach to meeting student needs, and transform school buildings into community hubs.
- Enhanced Curriculum: Ensure that every student has access to an academically rigorous curriculum that is enriched, well-rounded, engaging and culturally relevant.
- Improved Instruction: Build collective instructional capacity in the district through enhanced professional development, equitable staffing, career advancement opportunities for teachers and internal leadership development.
- Performance Assessments: Develop a comprehensive local assessment system that provides more meaningful information, and supports improved teaching and learning.
- Authentic Accountability: Create an accountability system that promotes school improvement through community involvement and comprehensive school-quality review.
- Support for Struggling Schools: Develop the systemic infrastructure to provide assistance to schools in need of improvement.
- Truly Safe Schools: Adopt a new understanding of school safety and discipline that focuses on improving school climate.
- Citywide Collaboration: Convene multiple stakeholders to identify strategies for improving opportunities and outcomes for Philadelphia's children and youth.
- Democratic Representation: Restore Philadelphia's local school board.