"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, April 22, 2018

How did Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion High School go from an enrollment of 1,600 students to 292 students?


by Ken Derstine
The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools
April 21, 2018

The following is from testimony given before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on April 19, 2018.

Good evening,

My name is Ken Derstine. I am a retired teacher with 37 years of service in the School District of Philadelphia. I have attended almost all SRC meetings in the past few years, but I rarely give testimony. I am speaking today because of a flyer that was put out by your office last week. I found it to be so egregious in its claims that I have to speak on it.

I have given you a copy of this flier that apparently is being used in the Stawberry Mansion community. It is titled “Envisioning the Future of Strawberry Mansion High School”.

The very first paragraph is titled “Strawberry Mansion is NOT closing.” Apparently this is to reassure the community that Strawberry Mansion will not become an abandoned building, thereby contributing to a downward spiral like so many low-income communities that have lost their community school.

The next claim is that current students will graduate from Strawberry Mansion. You have already announced that there will be no ninth grade next year so that is not true for all students since what would have been the ninth graders will not graduate from Strawberry Mansion.

The next paragraph is headlined “Few students are choosing Strawberry Mansion now.” going on to point out that the school currently has 294 students. The implication is that the students and community are to blame for the schools current condition and the abandonment of it.In April of 1992, Strawberry Mansion had 1,600 students. The school was known for its science club named Science Force 2000 that won many awards. It had art and music programs. It had begun to revive its football team that had been suspended for many years. Heroic efforts were made to turn the school around with little support from the District. However, in May 2013 the school only had 435 students.



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