The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) has seen steady improvements in both management and educational attainment: SDP's credit rating has increased, placing the District in an investment-grade-rating for the first time since the 1970s; nurses, counselors, and hydration stations are now in every school; computer and science labs have been modernized; Philadelphia's students have exhibited marked improvements on both the PSSA and Keystone exams.
The District has made incredible strides. Still, as a City, there is work to be done. Of the fifteen largest cities in the country, Philadelphia has the lowest rate of adults who never attended college (49%) and the second lowest rate of adults with college degrees (29%). By ensuring quality education close to home for all students in Philadelphia, we can begin to change these statistics.
Pursue Non-Traditional Resources: Additional tax dollars are possible and preferable to bring resources and funding to the City's schools; however, we can also explore innovative ways of providing services and supports to our students.
Fundraising and Development: The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia raised $4.7 million in 2016. As colleges and universities have modernized and evolved their fundraising methods, so too must we be innovative and resourceful in fundraising for our schools.
Services-in-lieu-of-taxes (SILOTS): Philadelphia is home to a number of non-taxed institutions, namely universities and hospitals, that have potential to provide important services and supports to the District.
"Last Mile" Resources: No principal, teacher, or student should have to "make-do" without basic classroom materials, and no teacher should ever have to spend his or her personal money on school supplies. City Council can establish a centralized, visible, and school-by-school mechanism for to identify and provide necessary resources to our schools.
Prioritize Social and Emotional Learning: Philadelphia's students, especially those who have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma, need access to the tools and support systems to care for their mental and emotional wellbeing. Our teachers and administrators must be knowledgeable on trauma-informed classroom practices and our students must have access to professional support staff.
Support "Friends of" Groups and Home and School Associations: Our schools are strongest and our students are most successful when parents and community members are engaged and involved. By supporting existing associations and "Friends of" groups and help to establish new organizations, we connect schools and teachers with a foundation of resources with which to promote student success.
Encourage Project-Based Learning: Philadelphia has introduced a number of small, subject-focused schools (e.g. the Science Leadership Academy and the Workshop School). These institutions have proven invaluable for students, and establishing similar teaching methods in existing schools, students can develop talents and passions that will lead to future academic and career success.
As a working mom, Eryn understands on a personal level the challenges of providing quality and accessible education to Philadelphia's students. Professionally, Eryn has worked to streamline the City budget and bring more funding to City schools. She also holds a seat on the board of the Center for Grieving Children and acknowledges the need to bring holistic care into schools- students need access to counselors and trauma-informed teachers.