From Philadelphia to Ferguson: Realities for Education Planning

Today’s news consists of a few seemingly small and very different items.


First, in Philadelphia this past week, one public high school sent out a memo informing the school community of the departure of two teachers. A language teacher was re-assigned to another school, and a physics teacher resigned. As a result, due to budget leveling in the public schools, AP Physics was dropped entirely from the high school offerings, seven weeks into the term.

Also in Philadelphia, the Walter D Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School abruptly shut its doors October 27, informing families by robo-call on Sunday that school was closed, beginning the following day. Nearly 300 high schoolers must be absorbed into other schools mid-term.


In Ferguson, Missouri seven school superintendents wrote to prosecutor Robert McCulloch asking that any decision of the grand jury investigation of Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown be announced after 5 p.m. on a weekday or on a Sunday so that students would not be at risk in returning home.
“The school superintendents worry that an announcement could spark demonstrations, road closures and violence. And if that announcement comes during a school day, they worry that school kids will be caught in the middle while walking home or delayed for hours on buses unable to make their stops.”

Following Mike Brown’s death, protests and unrest were a regular occurrence, and the district had to constantly re-evaluate which routes were viable due to road closures and other challenges.


These are just a sampling of news items affecting school communities across the country, creating challenges for students, teachers, and administrators far beyond what may have been the scheduled lesson plan. Policy and planning cannot predict or address every contingency. But it’s important for decisionmakers to keep in mind the realities school communities face.

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