By now you might have heard that the School Reform Commission (SRC) voted last night to close 23 schools around the city, including the neighborhood school Alexander Wilson Elementary and University City High School.
Schools closed also included the 100-year-old Germantown High School. Students from Germantown will be sent to Martin Luther King Jr. High School, a longtime rival.
Planning for the school closings will begin immediately and impacted students will start at their new school next fall. Opponents say the mass closures, which amount to about 12 percent of the city’s public schools, will destroy neighborhoods.
Here are some tweets from last night’s meeting.
Helen Gym, co-founder of Parents United for Public Education:
No matter today’s vote, history will remember people stood for a different vision of public ed that has yet to be realized. #phillyeducation
— Helen Gym (@ParentsUnitedPA) March 7, 2013
High school teacher Chris Angelini:
Councilwoman Blondelle Reynolds Brown from the meeting gallery:
Generations have passed legacies of #phillyeducation Alma maters 2 children/ grandchildren. For many, this feels like a death in the family.
— Blondell R. Brown (@CouncilwomanBRB) March 8, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham includes a photo of student protesters.
— Kristen Graham (@newskag) March 7, 2013
But in a meeting beset by rancor (there were 19 arrests, including the national president of the American Federation of Teachers) there was at least one scrap of good news for some students in West Philly. The Paul Robeson High School for Human Services (4125 Ludlow) was one of four schools saved from closure last night. Students there were supposed to be transferred to Sayre High School (5800 Walnut St.), a lower performing school. Robeson showed marked improvement in recent years. In a report released a few days ago, the school ranked among the top 10 high schools in the city with a graduation rate of 90 percent for freshmen who began in 2008. Sayre has a graduation rate of 53 percent.
Philadelphia has seen a drop in public school students – from about 200,000 in 2000 to about 150,000 this year – due largely to the increase in the number of privately run charter schools. District officials have maintained that the closures are necessary to save money. Superintendent William Hite, who recommended the closures to the SRC, was active on Twitter after last night’s meeting as well:
A decision to close schools is always difficult but now we must come together to ensure all students are safe and successful. — Dr. William Hite (@SDPHite) March 8, 2013
The closures impact about 16,000 students and 1,000 teachers overall.