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Passivity in mayor’s office isn’t helpful

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

Doing the right thing

Response to Oct. 17 news post “SRC rejects plan to sell off art.”

The SRC is to be commended for voting not to sell the artwork which was, for all intents and purposes, stolen from District schools. [Former Superintendent] Paul Vallas and [former SRC Chair] James Nevels had no right to take it, and the way they did it was just plain ugly. They never told anyone – not even the principals – what they were about to do.

If Marilyn Krupnick, a retired teacher from Wilson Middle School (where most of the artwork was once housed) had not explained to the SRC what happened, and how many times over the years they tried to get it back, they would have voted to sell it without a word of explanation. Good for her.

The SRC did something right this time in voting on Oct. 17, rejecting the proposed resolution to sell the District’s art collection. I hope that they will give back the paintings to the schools they were taken from.

Lisa Haver

The writer, a retired Philadelphia teacher, is co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Passivity in mayor’s office isn’t helpful

Response to Oct. 25 news post, “Anecdotes and data: Measuring the impact of the ‘doomsday’ budget.”

“‘Some days I believe that people will call and tell the mayor, and we will know,’ Shorr said.

“‘And sometimes I think they’re putting their heads down, marching into the wind. They may not think to pick up the phone.’”

This is what you quote Lori Shorr, the head of the Mayor’s Office of Education as saying when talking about District officials and constituents providing the mayor’s office with information about day-to-day conditions in schools.

Perhaps I misunderstand her meaning, but these words suggest a frightening level of passivity on the part of the mayor’s office, the SRC, and District leaders.

I would love to show the SRC my expensive, inoperative smart board, blocking the whiteboard I could actually use. I could show them the shelves of books and boxes of papers, pencils, pens, markers, crayons, glue, and printing ink I purchased. I could show them our empty counselor’s suite. Then I could explain that I can ignore my kids’ need for help with high school applications, or eat into instructional time, or stay after school to work with them, but that something invaluable must go when I add these tasks to my day.

Ms. Shorr doesn’t know what schools are actually like after blows to their budgets?

The sickening reality is that all these people know exactly what these schools are like. Having drained the system for the best it had to offer for their own children, most of the SRC members cast a cold eye on what they’ve helped lay waste to. If you watch them at SRC meetings, they do it with a brazenly holier-than-thou disdain for the public.

Ms. Shorr, now that we know the mayor has been waiting to be told, maybe you could tell him what is going on.

And also, Ms. Shorr, can you get me a projector? Seriously.

Joan Taylor

The writer teaches at Middle Years Alternative School.

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