Wister Elementary students deserve a better school now, not later

     (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY, file)

    (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY, file)

    As parents, all we want are great schools for our kids. And we won’t wait any longer. That’s why we were stunned when Superintendent Hite snatched away our hope.

    As parents, all we want are great schools for our kids. And we won’t wait any longer.

    That’s why we and many other moms, dads, students, and community members from John Wister Elementary attended last month’s School Reform Commission meeting to demand that Superintendent William Hite fulfill his promise and allow Mastery to turn around our school.

    Putting the politics aside, there was one point on which everyone agreed: Wister doesn’t serve our children well right now. For us, the issue is not about charter schools, or finances, or School Progress Reports. It’s about this: How much longer should our children at Wister have to suffer while we wait for the school to improve?

    Thanks to Commissioner Sylvia Simms and her colleagues for hearing our voices and deciding that, at long last, Wister’s children shouldn’t wait any longer.

    The Mastery plan for Wister makes it clear that our kids would be well-served. And that brought a great sense of relief. For years, we and thousands of other parents in the city have been told that our schools would get better, but nothing ever changes. Finally our kids would have a safe school, a challenging school, a school that would prepare them for college and beyond.

    That’s why we were stunned when Superintendent Hite snatched away our hope. He claimed Wister had improved some last year, and so a turnaround wasn’t necessary.

    Improved? This past year only 3 percent of students — a mere 11 kids — passed the state math assessment. And there were actually more kids who scored at the lowest performance level than last year.

    Nonetheless, Superintendent Hite told us that, instead of a charter turnaround, he and the District would take a step back and discuss how to make the school better. In other words, he wanted to swap out Mastery’s clear vision to partner with our school community with a “plan to make a plan.”

    We can’t wait for promises of plans anymore. And we’re not about to let our kids’ first real shot at a great education in Germantown slip away. We came together and raised our voices to advocate for our kids.

    That’s what this is really about. Not charters versus public schools, not the politicians. Philadelphia schools are failing thousands of kids, and they desperately need to get better now, not at some point in the future that may never come.

    For those of us who actually have kids in failing schools, the choice couldn’t be simpler. We want a better school now for our kids, and we aren’t afraid to fight for it. We have that opportunity now in Germantown. We want it, and we’ll do anything to help our kids. Anything else you hear is just noise.

    Alisha Grant, Dionne Garrison Hubert, and Anita Hamilton are parents parents of students at John Wister Elementary School in Germantown.

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