This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The technology for better communication between parents and teachers through schoolwide voicemail systems is now in the works in 45 schools, a response to a demand made by the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project (EPOP) last fall.
Drawing on surveys with parents and teachers, EPOP’s "right-to-know" campaign made several recommendations aimed at improving communication among administrators, teachers, and parents. At a public meeting with more than 400 EPOP members last fall, CEO Paul Vallas committed to implementing many of the group’s demands, including giving every teacher a voicemail box.
EPOP leader Dolores Shaw expressed hope about the voicemail system’s potential to increase communication between parents and teachers, but said that the voicemail program’s success will depend on how effectively the system is used by both teachers and parents.
"We don’t want this to be just another tool that goes unused." she said.
Angie Pabón, director of the District’s Office of School and Community Relations, commended EPO’s right-to-know campaign and said their call for voicemail systems has "helped to keep this issue in the forefront."
Shaw said that getting voicemail was just one part of EPOP’s right-to-know campaign, and that they continue to work on other concerns including teacher quality and ensuring that the new report cards are understandable for parents.