Testimony of Stephanie King to the Board of Education, August 15, 2019

My name is Stephanie King and I am a parent at General Philip Kearny School in Northern Liberties.
I hope all the teachers and school administrators enjoyed their summers off. I didn’t get any time off from the work I do for the school. I was busy meeting with local lawmakers, trying to fill the gaps for funding. I was fundraising for copy paper, which is ridiculous that I even need to do. And I was meeting with my neighborhood association, where a bunch of privileged white people told me it was the school’s own fault that it is “failing” and “unsafe,” when in fact it is neither of those things.
But they think that because of the school segregation you’ve allowed in Northern Liberties, and I am here again because to date, I have not received a response to my request of April 25 that you do something about it. I am cautiously optimistic about the District’s recently-announced planning review process, which I hope will focus on fairness and equity. I was pleased to learn, in follow up, that 440 is taking steps to better track the demographics of inter-catchment transfers.
But it is almost a full year since I first started writing to you about segregation and inequality in Northern Liberties, and for all of last year, my issues have been deflected. Your research department tried to convince me that losing 4 white kindergartners each year to the neighboring white school wasn’t “statistically significant,” when that equals the total number of white children at Kearny. There are as many men alive who have walked on the moon as there are white students at my entire school. In Northern Liberties.
So I am here again to ask: Is it acceptable that Northern Liberties has a black school and a white school?
Do you, the District, and this Board agree with the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education that “separate but equal” is inherently inequal?
Then why aren’t you doing anything about it in Philadelphia? While you’re going to ribbon cuttings for the opening of a library or a makerspace at majority-white schools, our school is starting the year with no art or music teacher.
I’m tired of people sneering at my kids’ school and telling me it’s “failing” when my daughter’s 3rd grade math team was first in their division, and her PSSA scores were exceptional. Our school is not “failing.” You are failing our school. We’re struggling because you keep taking things away from us, snatching teachers out of our classrooms every October while these white schools gain teachers every year.
The least I expect from this District and this Board is an official response. And not some off-the-record meeting where everyone makes sad eyes and tells me that segregation is bad but the district can’t do anything about it or white people will all move to the suburbs. We can’t wait 5 years for your re-org, by which time you will have sold our school to turn it into luxury lofts. I am going to keep coming here until you actually do something.

Respectfully submitted,
Stephanie King

*Edited to add: after speaking, I was told by the Director of the Office of the Arts & Academic Enrichment that an art teacher has been hired for the upcoming year. The last time we got a new art teacher, she was leveled away from us by October. I was also told our one-day-a-week itinerant music lessons constitutes having a music teacher.

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