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Destroying Good Public Schools = Bad Education Reform
The SRC's bottom line focus has our neighborhood public schools in a race to the bottom.

The cost-cutting model of education reform in Philadelphia has had a huge negative impact on neighborhood schools that have struggled to provide children with a top-notch education using very limited resources. But as we’ve seen, the “austerity reform strategy” hurts our more successful schools as well.

The plans to eliminate bus service to the Girard Academy Music Program (GAMP) would destroy one of Philadelphia’s best public schools. GAMP has a well-earned reputation as a premier magnet school, known as much for the diversity of its student body as it is for its stellar music and academic programs.

Taking away GAMP’s yellow bus service means many families would be forced to withdraw their children from the school. Too many parents are not in a position to provide crosstown transportation, and putting young children on (sometimes multiple) SEPTA buses is a huge safety concern. Of course, some parents will be able to make arrangements. But once again, our most economically vulnerable students and parents stand to lose the most as more resources are taken away from our public schools.

The single-minded focus on saving money has done nothing but hurt our neighborhood schools and students. Certainly this is not what Judge Doris Smith intended when she dissolved the Desegregation Court Order with the School District.

Given their so-called focus on creating “high-performing” seats, the SRC’s willingness to jeopardize the future of one of our best public schools is as puzzling as it is disturbing. And where is the equity? If GAMP were a charter school, the school district would have to pay for the busing, regardless of cost.

The entire SRC strategy thus far has been predicated on taking staff, programs, resources and support away from public schools. The race to preserve the bottom line is becoming a race to the bottom.  This is not only affecting high-poverty, low-performing schools, but eroding the quality of celebrated institutions like GAMP.

It’s impossible to replicate successful schools by eliminating the very programs and features that make these schools successful. And we do want our public schools to succeed… Don’t we?


Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 3, AFL-CIO. All rights reserved. Photographs and illustrations, as well as text, cannot be used without permission from the PFT.