Children having the technology they need to be 21st –century students will be one silver lining by Dr. Maria McColgan

Posted on April 3, 2020
Categories: Insights with the Board

As I hope by now everyone knows, the Board is committed to assuring that each and every student in the city of Philadelphia receives a world-class education that is beyond compare. And we are taking steps to make that happen. However, as a District responsible for almost 204,000 students and thousands of staff, first and foremost we are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of our students. In light of the current pandemic and risks of potentially life-threatening illness, I applaud the district for addressing the almost Herculean task of assuring that students still have access to meals to assure that each child’s basic needs are met. No child should ever go hungry.

But now that that effort is underway, it is our job as the Board to ask questions, expect more and, as one of the public participants submitted in their written testimony, to ask the district to kick it up a notch. Necessity is the mother of invention, and Americans have always risen to the challenges set before them. Dr. Hite and everyone else involved, I thank you for all of your hard work in figuring out how to get ChromeBooks to every student. Every Philadelphia child having the technology they need to be a 21st century student will be one silver lining to come out of this crisis.

Now we need all hands on deck to find creative and innovative solutions to meeting the needs of our students and families. I couldn’t agree more with another of the submitted written comments that we are wasting a rich resource if we are not involving our teachers, nurses, counselors, behavioral specialists and others in the solution.  As my husband, who is a high school president always says: allow principals to lead and teachers to teach. They know their community, and they know their students. If we set high expectations while providing guidelines and guardrails, our teachers and students just might exceed our expectations.

Finally, I hope that we are working with the counselors, nurses, behavioral specialists, the staff who support our English learners, and other support service providers to find a way to provide services to families, be it by virtual visits or, at the very least, by telephone. Our families need us. Social distancing should not mean social isolation.

Again, thank you for all the hard work, but we can and must do more. I look forward to seeing how we continue to rise to the challenges ahead of us.