Parents United for Public Education
Parents United for Public Education
"bringing a parent voice for investing in our public schools"
NewsletterFall 2012




In This Issue
School closings study group
A $14 million campaign for schools
Parents United citywide parent meeting
Facilities Master Plan update
Vote of No Confidence







Invite Parents United to your Home & School meeting! Email us here.



Read Helen Gym's blog at the Public School Notebook



Follow us on Twitter





Join our

school closings

study group 

School closings seem impossible to understand. That's why Parents United is studying alternatives to closings that make financial AND educational sense. Contact us if you're interested in visionary alternatives to school closings. Email us!




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KUDOS to the . . . 

Philadelphia Parking Authority! 



How $14 million came to our schools

Last spring the PPA contributed $14 million to the public schools as part of its obligations under state law.


Five years ago Parents United for Public Education along with our partners, the Philadelphia Home & School Council, Germantown Clergy Initiative, Taxi Workers Alliance, and JUNTOS launched a campaign to ensure the PPA lived up to its responsibilities. Before our campaign the PPA had delivered $0.00 to our schools.


The campaign showed how parents can be creative partners in building public will and seeking resources for our schools. Good work team!


Read about the campaign here.



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Parents United

in the news

GAMP parents launch campaign around bus service for middle schoolers, 10/18/12

Helen Gym debates equity and charters on "Radio Times" 10/8/12

Ch. 6 features Parents United founder Cecelia Thompson on school closures' impact on low-income schools, 9/25/12

Movie review: "Won't Back Down" won't be real about school reform. 9/25/12
Helen Gym raises concerns about high stakes testing on cheating and declining test scores, 9/23/12


Parents United's Rebecca Poyourow highlights charter schools' barriers to entry in a Notebook investigation, 9/14/12

Mayor Nutter recently said labels like public/private/charter shouldn't matter. Helen Gym argues
why they do, 8/27/12

Diane Ravitch calls Rebecca Poyourow "more knowledgeable" than Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates and education reformers (but we knew that!) 8/19/12

Parent United founder Gerald Wright asks questions about Boston Consulting Group's school "plan", 8/4/12
PUPE logo   


Dear (Contact First Name),

This school year will be a huge test for our school communities. School closings, a continued budget crisis, and local privatization forces threaten our neighborhoods and our schools. Even the very notion of "neighborhood" and "public" are being questioned at the highest levels. So who's speaking up for our schools and our communities?


Parent voices are the ones to change the future of our schools. They want a plan focused on failure, testing and "reform." We want to transform our schools with classrooms, equity and educational needs, our voices and our children at the center.

All of us are parents. We have jobs and families, volunteer commitments and limited resources. But our voices matter. We have a new superintendent who brings new energy and hope to this debate. It's more important than ever for us to bring an informed and engaged parent voice to the table. We need to find sustainable ways to hold our school systems accountable, to assure financial stability and build schools that educate our children and revitalize our communities. Join Parents United and  . . .


Parents United for Public Education
citywide parents meeting
Building a parent agenda:  "What every parent
should know about this school year" 
Wed., Oct. 24th, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Mother Bethel A.M.E.
419 S. 6th Street, btwn Pine & Lombard
parking available
(This meeting is for parents and guardians)
Facilities Master Plan update

Did you attend the District's Facilities Master Plan community meetings? If you were like us, we were deeply disappointed with a "process" that lacked information, data or an exchange of ideas. What did we learn?

  • The District seems to be moving away from neighborhood options, especially as students get into the middle & upper grades.
  • We do not have a clear definition of "quality seats."
  • The District has not provided us with a map of buildings with facilities problems.
  • The District will not release the list of 60 schools identified by the Boston Consulting Group, a group under private contract with anonymous donors and a major foundation, for closure.

What we believe:

  1. The District must provide the public with a detailed map of facilities ranked according to building condition and "quality" in order to consider potential school closings and consolidation options.
  2. The District must demonstrate how it will invest in remaining schools so that we do not negatively impact functioning schools and continue to address building maintenance.
  3. Transportation, including yellow bus service for up to 8th grade, must be guaranteed for public school students in parity with charter and parochial schools.
  4. School closings must be on a multi-year timeline to give parents and communities time to seek viable options and allow receiving schools to prepare for consolidation.
  5. The District must release the Boston Consulting Group list and discuss it publicly for purposes of transparency and trust.
  6. The proceeds of the sale of a school building must go into modernizing the facilities of the primary public school the children will attend. School need the investment!

Join our Parents United facilities study group! Email us here.

49 Schools support Vote of No Confidence
PHSC & Parents United partner in powerful show of parent voice


Last spring, 50+ parent associations and citywide parent organizations signed onto a "Vote of No Confidence" in the School District's FY13 budget. Our reasons:


  1. The budget fails to uphold the District's core mission to provide essential personnel and quality instructional resources to public schools.
  2. The District failed to include parents in decision-making. Despite parents taking the time to participate in committees and testifying repeatedly at community budget meetings, the FY13 budget reflects very few of our priorities.
  3. It promotes a secretive, massive school closings plan without a full public vetting of the criteria for closing schools or a quality plan for transferring students or transforming schools.
  4. The FY13 budget balances a $218 million deficit on the backs of children while leaving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania off the hook to pay its fair share to schools.
  5. Finally, the budget promotes non-public options at the expense of public ones. It promotes a massive expansion of charters while targeting public schools for widespread closure and budget cuts.

Our proposal:

  • Set up an emergency process with parent groups to assess the impact of school-based losses this year and prioritize restoring funds to school budgets;
  • The SRC must hold public hearings on school closing criteria and slow down the process for closing schools in FY2013. They must design a process that gives parents time to seek quality options and not rush a decision in the spring.
  • Provide an opportunity for parents to meet with budget staff to review and suggest an alternative list of savings.
  • A process to engage parents, District leaders and the City in seeking alternative funding sources including a collective effort for additional state revenue, Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS), etc.



Schools: Alcorn, Adaire, AMY Northwest, Bache-Martin, Barry, Bodine, J.H. Brown, CAPA, Carver School of Engineering & Sciences, Cassidy, Conwell, Cook-Wissahickon, Creighton, A.B. Day, Dobson, Edmonds, Fell, Finletter, A.L. Fitzpatrick, Franklin Learning Center, Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP), Girls High, Henry, Hill-Freedman, Hopkinson, Houston, A.S. Jenks, J.S. Jenks, Kelly, Kinsey, Lea, Lingelbach, Longstreth, Masterman, McCall, McCloskey, Meredith, Morrison, Nebinger, Olney, Pennypacker, Powel, Prince Hall, Rhoads, Rowen, Science Leadership Academy, Shawmont, E.M. Stanton, Taylor.


Organizations: Autism Sharing and Parenting, Germantown Clergy Initiative, Parents United for Public Education, Philadelphia Home and School Council, Philadelphia Right to Education Local Task Force




Parents United for Public Education is an independent all-volunteer collective of Philadelphia parents focused on creating an open and transparent budget process that reflects the real parent voices and places a fiscal priority on quality school classrooms. We mobilize parents to take an active role in school budget issues and lobby civic and elected officials to improve public school funding, provide opportunity to learn supports, uphold the values of public education, and prioritize academic achievement, accountability and public engagement.

For more information, email us at