The Philadelphia School District should consider how new plans will adversely affect students’ desire to learn.
The students were protesting Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s plans to revamp 18 area schools into “Promise Academies,” a plan that would make school days and years longer. The new program, unfortunately, will be anything but successful.
From the standpoint of a high school kid, I sympathize with the students’ tasteful demonstration. I absolutely couldn’t stand some of my high school’s rules and policies, but no one had the courage to rebel.
Ackerman is out of her mind if she thinks making the academic days longer will improve conditions within the area schools. She may be in for a rude awakening. High school is like sitting in the Department of Motor Vehicles – no one wants to be there, yet it’s necessary if you want to drive.
Likewise, society stresses the only way to be a functioning member of society is to have a high school diploma.
It’s evident Ackerman only wants the best for Philadelphia’s youth – a bright future and the possibility of making our city an academic example to the United States – but in the eyes of a teenager, the prospect of staying in school a few hours longer may be hell on Earth.
Aside from the horrors of having a longer school day, the “Promise Academy” initiative will also require teachers to reapply for their current positions, a stipulation that didn’t sit well with some West Philadelphia students.
“Our teachers know us and they care,” WPHS senior Amber Reed told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Feb. 12. “They’re good teachers. Why do they have to go?”
Leader of the walkout D’Atwan Nelson, a senior and a possible reincarnation of the great Che Guevara, said he is incredibly upset and infuriated with the new program that will take effect in September, as well as his classmates.
Students said the school is “disorganized.” Kids are suspended for breaking minor rules, and the school police don’t treat the students with respect and dignity.
Before enacting any new forms of policy, the school board should first figure out a way to neutralize student distaste and ask them where the problems lie.
“I’m appalled at what’s going on,” Nelson said to the Inquirer.
More often than not, teenagers are overlooked when it comes to their opinions. If teenagers are old enough to drive a car, they should have a say when it comes to their education.
U.S. citizens spend most of their young lives within the educational system. What’s more, the system is still recovering from the nuclear bomb former President George W. Bush unleashed with the No Child Left Behind Act.
So far, it appears the students’ efforts caused the school board to notice. The administration is taking their concerns very seriously, insisting that the students’ education comes first and that it is the district’s main concern.
It’s about time students unite and voice their opinions. Teenagers shouldn’t forget they have certain unalienable rights that are protected under the Constitution – one of which being the right to assemble.
Although September is a long way off, it will be interesting to see what these young revolutionaries have accomplished and if they can keep pressure on the school board. It’s clear the school board’s current vision of “Promise Academies” isn’t going anywhere. It may actually turn out to be a good idea if it is executed the proper way.
However, school officials need to remember they are dealing with teenagers. Implementing the new program incorrectly may do more harm than good.
Bruce Chubb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.