Education

Community Organizes to Save Neighborhood School in Philadelphia

By Michele Molnar — April 17, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

E.M. Stanton Elementary School, a neighborhood public school in Philadelphia, recently survived an attempt to close it down.

It was spared thanks to a community of parents, educators, students and volunteers who mounted an effective and passionate nine-month campaign to keep it open, according to The Notebook, which calls itself an independent voice for people who are interested in Philadelphia Public Schools.

With eight consecutive years of making “adequate yearly progress,” Stanton’s academic performance certainly measured up. But the Philadelphia School District expressed concern about the school’s low enrollment (with 255 students in 2011-12) and crumbling infrastructure. It also took the position that Stanton’s students could attend nearby schools.

Supporters of Stanton (SOS) strenuously disagreed. They conveyed how much their little school, with its thriving multicultural arts and after-school programs, generated success, with an overall School Performance Index of 2 (on a scale of 1 being the best and 10, the worst.)

The Notebook’s account of their opposition to the proposed closing is like reading a textbook case of how parents and communities can mobilize to advocate for a particular school’s viability.

Among the keys to the community’s organizing success:

Start from Day One: School was out when the Stanton community learned that their school was on the chopping block. They sprang into action immediately.

Reach out: Bainbridge House, a faith-based cooperative located just blocks from the school, was vested in helping keep it open. Weekly meetings were held there, and included a cross-section of people involved in the outcome of the campaign.

Tell a story: Buoyed by a success at saving the school in 2003—where the thrust of the story was “give us a chance"—organizers chose another story to share: “We did what you wanted. We succeeded. Now let us survive.”

Show and tell: Communicating the story is vital. SOS blogged on a website where they posted videos featuring students performing, teachers and the principal explaining the school’s value, and volunteers weighing in on the issue, too.

Present new ideas: The SOS team listened to the district’s concerns, and came up with a 37-page counter-proposal addressing them. Among the suggestions: adding another grade or creating an autism-support program. School officials appreciated this proactive and positive response.

Now that the school has been spared, some of the activists are paying it forward by participating in other public school-supportive events, like a recent “mock bake sale,” delivering cookies to city council members to convey that selling baked goods will never produce enough dollars to cover the deficits in funding for public schools.

A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP