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A student’s take on King High’s turnaround

Photo: Bill Hangley, Jr. for WHYY/NewsWorks

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The young man said, “You’re with the news?”

Yes, I said.

“I’m a student leader,” he replied, slender and thoughtful-looking in clean jeans and a blue windbreaker. “My name is Taylor Smith.”

We stood in the back of the auditorium at Martin Luther King High in Germantown. Up front, about sixty parents and teachers sat and listened while a professional moderator explained the evening’s agenda. Next year, as part of the Philadelphia School District’s Renaissance program, King will be under new management. Three different independent organizations are vying for the contract. On this rainy Thursday night, the District’s goal was to gather feedback from parents about what they’d like to see from King’s next administration.

A week before, like students at two other newly-designated Renaissance high schools, about 75 of King’s 1,000 students walked out of class to protest the shakeup. Smith wasn’t one of them. “Most of those kids, they didn’t even know what they was protesting,” he said.

This story continues on the NewsWorks website; it is a product of a reporting collaboration between the Notebook and WHYY.

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