In the past several weeks in Philadelphia several students in several Philadelphia public high schools have walked out. They have decided enough was enough and they refused to sit by, pun intended, and let their schools be stripped of character and possibility, to become a charter school. While students are willing to concede their schools have much improving to do regarding drop out rates, standardized test scores, grades, and attendance they are not willing to concede becoming a charter school via the city’s renaissance proposal was the best way to institute change.
The school system in the city of Philadelphia is long overdue for a change, but I am not so sure what the change is going to look like. I cannot say either way if any form of privatization/charter is really the answer to the problem and will facilitate positive necessary systemic change or just shift responsibility and not hold parents, students, community members/leaders, and government officials accountable for educating our children and youth to become responsible contributing members of society. What I can say is I am with the students on this one, change needs to come and preferably not by a bailout or shift in responsibility, preferably not at the expense of shuffling the students feet and ignoring their voices. By waking out the students have shown they have a collective voice and a collective desire to create an educational community which inspires and supports ensuring students are and do their best. They have shown they have power and know how to use it in a nonviolent manner, but one which is powerful and demands to make them visible, heard, and acknowledged nonetheless.
These students understand the key to phreely pursuing their future was to start using their voices phreely to demand to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. They understand that in order to phreely become all they hope to be they must receive a quality education, and quality ought not come at the expense of shifted responsibility by administrators and government officials. They understand they have the phreedum to create their own destinies and use ingenuity, creativity, and some leg work to do it.