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Summer 2012 Vol. 19. No. 6 Focus on A Broken Pipeline to College

Activism around the city

Stanton, Sheppard supporters see efforts to save their schools pay off

By by Samantha Coggin on May 16, 2012 11:19 AM
Photo: Oscar Wang

A sign outside E.M. Stanton School was updated to mark supporters’ successful campaign.

When parents and supporters of E.M. Stanton Elementary in South Philadelphia and Sheppard Elementary in Kensington learned last summer that the District was considering shutting down their schools, they jumped into action.

Both schools mounted months-long campaigns to stay open – and they worked.

The School Reform Commission voted March 29 to shutter eight schools from the District's proposed closure list, but Stanton and Sheppard were spared.

Now staff and consultants are recommending 64 more schools to be closed over the next five years, including 40 in 2013. The announcement has drawn widespread worry among parents and students.

But Jamie Roberts, an English as a Second Language teacher at Sheppard, said she is just relieved to have gotten through this round of closings.

"Now we can finally concentrate on being teachers," said Roberts. "The bond of working together for this has brought our parents, teachers, and students even closer together."

Among their efforts, Sheppard supporters spoke regularly at SRC meetings; they delivered signatures from hundreds of parents and community members as a plea to save their school.

Supporters of Stanton – or SOS, as the group became known – came together almost immediately after learning of the District's plans. Their campaign involved parents, teachers, students, and community activists who began meeting weekly to plan and mobilize support.

The group constructed a comprehensive counterproposal to the District's closing plan. The alternative plan called for housing an autism-support program at Stanton and expanding the school's catchment area to increase enrollment.

Parent and SOS spokesperson Temwa Wright said she is thrilled with the SRC's decision. But she recognizes the fight is not over and plans to stay engaged.

"We're definitely going to continue conversations with the District because … they are still troubled with the facilities issue," Wright said.

"We don't want to relocate," she said. "We have to continue to make that clear. We would like to come up with solutions to keep the program intact at our location."

Comments (12)

Submitted by dana (not verified) on June 3, 2014 4:24 am
That was a close call. I'm glad they got through it. I'm sure it was very stressful. I hate to see whatis happening to the education system.
Submitted by Carol (not verified) on June 6, 2014 8:47 am
E.M. Stanton Elementary is a very good example that those decisions depends by the community, not the school leaders.

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