New report outlines education priorities, challenges for Phily’s next mayor

Student safety, teacher quality, and curriculum and instructional practices are among the key issues

By: - April 4, 2023 10:12 am

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — Student safety, teacher quality, and curriculum and instructional practices are among the key areas Philadelphia families want the next mayor to focus on in education, according to a survey commissioned by the nonprofit Elevate 215.

More than nine in 10 parents (91%) of parents listed school safety as their top consideration when deciding what kind of school their children go to, followed by teacher quality and curriculum and instructional practices, according to the nonprofit’s “Move Schools Forward” report.

Seventy-two percent of parents felt teacher quality was excellent, good or acceptable and 60% said parent and family engagement were excellent, good or acceptable.

In terms of safety, 44% of parents polled said student safety was poor or very poor. Parents also gave a poor rating for Philadelphia’s modern facilities, technology and learning loss caused by the pandemic as 40% gave it a poor or very poor rating.

Sixty-four percent of parents believe Philadelphia public schools are on the wrong track. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed said they intend to make education reform a key factor in deciding who would be the city’s next mayor.

“What surprised us most of all is the degree of consensus among parents and what they want for their children,” said Stacey Holland, CEO of Elevate 215 in a statement.

“Regardless of where their children attend school, parents are united in seeking a modern educational experience that prepares their children to thrive in the classroom and in life,” she said.

“They are demanding high-quality instruction in safe and welcoming schools and it is a key factor in how they intend to vote for the next mayor,” she added.

In the poll, 95% of Philadelphia families want schools that create modern learning experiences that prepare students for the real world, but 51% of parents feel their children are not being prepared to “thrive in life.”

Fifty-five percent of parents said Philadelphia high school graduates are prepared to enter a community college or technical school, 46% said graduates are prepared to enter a four-year college and 44% said they were prepared for a full-time job.

Elevate 215 commissioned Embolden Research to conduct a survey at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. More than 400 Philadelphia families with children enrolled in public, charter, private and parochial participated in the poll.

The nonprofit shared the survey results with educational and business leaders and their feedback mirrored what parents stated their top priorities are in education.

“The really interesting thing about the data shared in this report is it shows families are not only aligned in their priorities from across different backgrounds, but they understand the urgency for schools to accelerate learning to prepare students for college and a meaningful career,” said Donald Guy Generals, president of Community College of Philadelphia, in a statement.

“While parents are still concerned about catching students up and closing learning gaps, they know that schools with great teachers, safe environments, and a robust curriculum give their children the best opportunity to succeed beyond their K-12 school experience,” he said.

In addition to the report, Elevate 215 also outlined six steps that the next mayor can take to move schools forward including setting a citywide vision for schools; increasing the number of high quality schools; investing in safe, modern facilities; improving student safety; implementing a citywide teacher recruitment and retention initiative and advocating for equitable funding for Philadelphia schools in both Harrisburg and Washington.

Pedro Ramos, the president and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation, said the report comes at a critical time in the mayoral race and encourages everyone to read it.

“Anyone engaged in advancing public education in Philadelphia should read it,” Ramos said in a statement. “It amplifies the [voices] of parents and families while summarizing key facts that all local government and civic leaders and candidates for office should know.”

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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