The Philly school system has been underfunded for years. In Queen Village, neighbors are parlaying the power of organizing and civic groups to provide 30 students access to summer school they need but would have been refused due to cuts in the Philadelphia School District (PSD) budget. This year, citywide summer school programs have been cut to bridge programs for students entering high school and seniors who need one or two more credits to graduate.
City Paper covered the vast issues that have weighed and continue to weigh down city schools in May in an article entitled “Who’s Killing Philly Public Schools.”
A partnership between members of the Queen Village Neighborhood Association (QVNA) and the Mother Bethel AME Church led to QVNA delving out a $2,500 grant for these students from the Nebinger, Meredith and McCall schools to receive summer schooling.
“We can’t really trust the School District to do that so we’ve gotta take matters into our hands and that’s essentially what we’ve done,” said QVNA president Jeff Hornstein, a candidate last year for First District City Council seat.
When Hornstein ran for QVNA president last fall, he dedicated part of his campaign to improving local schools. He told us the Meredith School had a good reputation around the neighborhood and said neighbors were aware Nebinger longed for improvement. He envisioned filling two vacant QVNA board seats with school parents.
He found one answer in Leslie Patterson-Tyler, wife of Mother Bethel Pastor Mark Tyler, also president-elect of the Meredith Home & School Association, and the recently-named VP of community outreach for the Friends of Nebinger Elementary. Together they formed the QVNA’s Schools & Youth Activities Committee, which Patterson-Tyler chairs.
Then she launched “It Takes Queen Village,” a campaign to support public education where neighbors knocked on doors and solicited donations for education initiatives. It was in the spirit of that campaign that Patterson-Tyler voiced the issue of the local students without access to needed summer school resources, after a principal approached her about the matter. In addition to the grant, the Archdiocese Summer Meals Program will provide free breakfast and lunch. Plus, members of Mother Bethel generated $3500 during additional collections at service, according to Tyler. The summer program costs $6K, and is arranged for students to be educated at Mother Bethel at a cost of about $200 per student.
The School District did not respond to requests for comments.
Members of the QVNA and Queen Village and Bella Vista neighbors should be proud. Despite the failures of the PSD, here we have a situation where neighbors realized the importance of providing additional resources where they were needed.