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Make your voice heard on improving our schools

Find out who represents you on the City Council and reach out to let them know our schools are a priority and you want to see investment, improvement, and transparency

Here you can find instructions on how to sign up to comment on council meetings and how to speak at public hearings. You can review the agendas on the calendar here and watch meetings live here.

The official website for the Office of the Mayor provides basic information and a contact number, but you can also reach out using this form.

Reach out to the School District of Philadelphia. The public is encouraged to attend and participate in the district’s regular Action Meetings. You can find the schedule here as well as information on how to register as a speaker.


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Ways you can support students and teachers

Schools are the foundation that supports our children. The Philadelphia Citizen has compiled a list of ways you can help our public schools, teachers, and students succeed.

There are more than 20 philanthropic organizations in Philadelphia focused on improving our schools and supporting our students and teachers. Volunteer or donate to make a difference!

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One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia — whether you want to contact your City Councilmember about improving our public schools, get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

Vote and strengthen democracy

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Create a cleaner, greener Philadelphia

Help our local youth and schools succeed

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Guest Commentary: How To Make A School Board for All Students

Mayor Parker is preparing to appoint nine new volunteers to oversee our school system. A corporate leadership expert and Mastery Schools chair spells out what they must do to ensure student success

Guest Commentary: How To Make A School Board for All Students

Mayor Parker is preparing to appoint nine new volunteers to oversee our school system. A corporate leadership expert and Mastery Schools chair spells out what they must do to ensure student success

One of the most critical responsibilities bestowed upon local elected officials is ensuring that every child has access to a safe, high-quality school. This highlights the significance of who will be appointed as new members to the Philadelphia Board of Education. The nine individuals selected to step up and fill these roles, serving without compensation, will not only have an outsized impact on the future of our children, but also the well-being of our neighborhoods, the city’s economy and the trajectory of Philadelphia at large.

The job awaiting the next School Board is monumental. Philadelphia’s school district, one of the nation’s largest with a budget of $4.5 billion and nearly 200,000 students, has within its purview a significant diversity of education choices for families. It encompasses District-operated neighborhood and special admit schools, brick-and-mortar charter schools, cyber charter schools, and alternative schools. The vast scale of the School District is matched only by the breadth of its challenges.

I am a proud product of Philadelphia’s public education system, and as the founder and CEO of DiverseForce, a firm that helps organizations build strong, diverse teams and boards, and as the Chair of the Board of Mastery Schools, I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of good leadership, building the right team, setting clear standards, and ensuring transparent decision-making. Drawing from this experience, I believe the next School Board can make significant progress toward ensuring that every Philadelphia public school student has access to a high-quality school of their choice.

Imagine a Philadelphia where every neighborhood has an outstanding public school, whether district-run or charter, that prepares students for success in life.

The urgency for fundamental change underpins the critical nature of this appointment of the new board members. In order to improve schools for all students, the future Board members must:

Champion equity across all public schools.

Regardless of whether families choose a district-run or charter school, all Philadelphia students deserve our full support. Charter schools are public schools, and they are a choice that many Philadelphia families are actively making for their children’s education. In fact, one-third of Philadelphia families currently choose charter-operated public schools, with another 20,000 students on waiting lists. Regardless of the type of public school a student attends, they are all under the purview of the School Board and deserve their unwavering support. It is important that equitable support and funding be allocated to the public schools that our children are currently attending and reflective of the choices Philadelphia families are making for their education.

Represent true diversity — racial, gender, geography and experience.

We need a combination of educators, parents, and community leaders on our board to represent the diverse voices of our communities and interests within our City of Philadelphia. We should also want people who have experience in both district and charter school systems, people who have prior experience serving in leadership at large organizations and understand the strategic and financial oversight role a board plays for an organization the size and complexity of the school district. Most importantly, we need members who are open-minded and committed to doing what’s best for all students.

Commit to fair, transparent processes that hold all schools accountable to standards.

The landmark Ballard Spahr report released in October, 2023 was spurred by the African American Charter Schools Coalition’s allegations of bias in authorizing charters by the School District. The investigation surfaced concerns about potential conflicts of interest and found that the current confusing and overly complex charter evaluation system creates an undue burden on schools, particularly independent, stand-alone charter schools. The new school board must be committed to partnering with charter leaders, fixing these inequities and postponing charter renewal decisions until the flawed system is addressed. One important initial step is agreeing that accountability matters and all public schools should be held to the same standards.

Be open to innovation.

What makes Charter schools an important option for parents is their ability to rapidly and effectively respond to the unique needs and concerns of students and communities. They can be creative about their school models to meet the interests and demands of many different types of learners, learning modalities, and interests. District-run schools also have dedicated educators working hard to innovate and meet student needs wherever possible. We need a School Board that welcomes innovative solutions in education as an asset to our city’s education ecosystem.

With Mayor Parker at the helm promoting “ONE Philly,” alongside new leadership in City Council, and a School Board dedicated to uplifting every Philadelphia public school student, we are presented with an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally improve educational outcomes for our children. By addressing longstanding structural and funding disparities, we can transform Philadelphia’s schools into pillars of excellence.

Imagine a Philadelphia where every neighborhood has an outstanding public school, whether district-run or charter, that prepares students for success in life. Imagine families staying in the city to raise their children, and employers eager to tap into our diverse, well-educated workforce. Imagine safer streets and a brighter economic future for all Philadelphians.

That is the promise in front of us if we choose school board members wisely. Let us seize this moment and give all Philadelphia students the excellent education they deserve.

Sulaiman W. Rahman, one of The Citizen’s Generation Change Philly fellows, is CEO of DiverseForce and chair of Mastery Schools Board.

The Citizen welcomes guest commentary from community members who represent that it is their own work and their own opinion based on true facts that they know firsthand.


Photo courtesy woodleywonderworks Flickr

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