Home > Uncategorized > Philadelphia Schools: Last One Out, Turn Out The Lights

Philadelphia Schools: Last One Out, Turn Out The Lights

June 10, 2013

I am saddened to read about what has occurred in the last decade in Philadelphia. I started my career teaching in Philadelphia in 1970 at a time when it seemed that they might be turning a corner. Mark Shedd was Superintendent, and under his leadership and the leadership of Board chair Richardson Dilworth the schools were emerging from years of neglect. Shedd introduced progressive ideas like the Parkway School Without Walls that used spaces in the museums along the Parkway in Philadelphia instead of traditional classrooms and was replacing impersonal and dilapidated junior highs with shiny new middle schools thanks to bond funds designed to upgrade facilities. Alas, Shedd crossed swords with Police Commissioners Frank Rizzo during a student demonstration in the late 1960s. Rizzo then ran for mayor as a Democrat in 1971 on an anti-public school platform that called for the removal of Shedd. A year later, Shedd was gone.


When I started teaching I aspired to being a school leader like Mark Shedd, who championed equal opportunity for poor kids and changes to the status quo that he believed were needed to achieve that level of equity. When I started teaching, it seemed like those kinds of changes were imminent. Four decades later, Philadelphia public schools are on the ropes. When I read these stories about Philadelphia, I am reminded that idealists like Mark Shedd are rare and money worshipping profiteers abound. I am reminded that equal opportunity is more elusive than ever, and changes to the status quo in public education– that is changes to the ways schools are organized— seem fantastical.

Last one out, please turn out the lights.


  1. No comments yet.
  1. June 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: