Ahead of district hearings, dozens protest closing Philadelphia schools

The Philadelphia School District is coming under fire for its plan to shutter 40 of the district’s schools by next year, and two dozen more in the coming years.  Two hundred religious leaders, parents and other concerned citizens turned out last night at the Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church to show their opposition and demand alternatives from the School Reform Commission.

Reverend Mark Kelly Tyler, the pastor of Mother Bethel, said there should be more community involvement in the school re-structuring.

“The School Reform Commission and the acting superintendent, before they go spending another million and a half dollars with some outside consulting agency, they need to spend some time speaking to the persons who are most impacted and who have the best firsthand knowledge of the school district and what works and what doesn’t work,’ said Tyler.

The decision to close the schools is on the minds of many people Reverend Kevin Johnson talks to.  He’s the pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia.”The biggest complaint I have about this radical change is that we do not have a permanent superintendent,” said Johnson. “We have no captain to steer the ship and it’s unconscionable that the SRC, the elected officials would even dare present such a model to the citizens of Philadelphia when we do not have a clear vision!”Johnson said moving to the suburbs is enticing for Philadelphians who fear rising taxes and who are frustrated because they don’t see a clear vision for improving the city’s schools. 

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The school district is holding public hearings on the proposal this week, one at district headquarters and the other at CAPA High School in Kensington.

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