Last Thursday, Young Involved Philadelphia partnered with the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal to launch its 6th edition focused on education with an “It starts with a conversation” event at WHYY. The edition features 50 articles written by local, regional, and national experts on a variety of topics, including an article I wrote on a new vision for the future of teachers unions.
Education is one of YIP’s yearly priorities for a few reasons. The first is economic. An educated workforce is key to the viability of the City. The second is a matter of social justice. Students in low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia are falling behind their counterparts in more privileged communities. And the third is personal. As young people making decisions about whether to stay in the City to raise families, the quality of neighborhood schools becomes an essential concern of ours.
Too often, education advocates focus on the next “quick fix” or “silver bullet” solution to reforming the system. Core to YIP’s mission is the belief that you have to bring people together across sectors with different viewpoints to foster and sustain change. The event last Thursday started that important conversation. Several issues surfaced.
Here are seven:
- The media needs to start balancing its focus on the system’s problems (e.g., school violence series) with positive case studies so we can learn from and build on what works
- Children’s education is affected by many factors (e.g., health, housing) so we need to ensure we are tackling the problem from multiple angles
- Talent is key. Philadelphia needs to focus on recruiting and cultivating talented teachers and leaders
- Incentives should be structured to promote creativity and innovation, while also finding ways to hold educators accountable for performance
- Governance needs to be rethought. The SRC may not be the best vehicle for ensuring that local perspectives are represented in the decision-making process
- Better collaboration among key stakeholders – both within the education sector and across sectors – is essential
- The public needs more detailed information on school quality, but first, needs to engage in a meaningful conversation around how to define “quality schools”
What issues do you think need to be better understood and addressed in education in Philly? How can we leverage our resources as educators and non-educators to make changes to the system?
Claire Robertson-Kraft is the Associate Director of the Center for Greater Philadelphia on Operation Public Education, pursuing her doctorate in education policy at Penn, and the chair of Young Involved Philadelphia.
[Update (4/17)] Powerpoints from event:
Dr. Lori Shorr: Chief Education Officer
Chris Bravacos and Michael Clark: Introduction to Education Reform (1990-2011)