This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Why am I attending brunch with Paul Socolar?
To be honest, I don’t know Paul all that well. At most, we’ve exchanged polite hellos and chatted briefly at school-related events. However, I’m attending the “Brunch with Paul,” because the Notebook has become an important part of my life.
I wasn’t even aware of the existence of the Notebook until my children started attending public school. Once they did, it didn’t take me long to realize the extent of the dysfunction of the structure, administration, and funding mechanisms that affect our schools. To a newcomer wading into the public school swamp, it was confusing, and I found it hard to determine the motivations of all the parties claiming that children’s needs come first. And that’s when I discovered what a valuable tool the Notebook is in making sense of what’s going on.
In education, it seems that everyone has an agenda. Some are hidden, some are not. Some are philosophical, some are personal. But there is one invested group – the Notebook – that does not have an agenda other than trying to ensure high-quality public education for all.
As someone who is passionate about public education, I find the Notebook to be an invaluable resource. From the daily email blast with all of the education news, to play-by-play of SRC meetings, to in-depth investigative reporting on complex issues, the Notebook is the place to go to find out about everything that’s going on at 440 N. Broad St. and education throughout the city.
Paul Socolar is the force that made it all happen. Yes, other very dedicated people have been involved along the way, but it’s hard to imagine what the Notebook would be without Paul’s guiding influence and tenacity. At the Notebook, Paul doesn’t have a hidden agenda. He has devoted the last 20 years of his professional life to understanding what’s behind all of the agendas by gathering and reporting information free of bias and malice, but full of facts and integrity.
On a personal note, even though the conversations I’ve had with Paul have been limited, he always makes a point of encouraging me to write more, giving me the confidence to express my thoughts and opinions, even posting them on the Notebook itself. I’m grateful to him for giving me this opportunity to grow as a writer, and as a public school advocate.
So even if you don’t Paul very well, have brunch with him. Lay the foundation for the Notebook’s investigative reporting fund, because now more than ever, we need a publication that is devoted to digging in and finding out what’s really going on. If you appreciate the Notebook, whether you read the daily email blast or take the time to write the colorful comments at the end of the articles, we owe it to ourselves to make sure its tradition continues long after Paul’s departure.
Christine Carlson is a public school parent and the founder of the Greater Center City Neighborhood Schools Coalition. She also blogs regularly for the Notebook.