Letters to the Editor

Taxes, and now schools , are troubling concerns for Pennsport residents. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Taxes, and now schools , are troubling concerns for Pennsport residents. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Posted: June 19, 2013

School closures fray Pennsport

South Philadelphia's Pennsport neighborhood is one of the oldest, most historic areas of the city, home to the nation's first immigration station and the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. It's also one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods, with more than 100 new homes due over the next year, along with another 100-plus built since 2010. Sounds great, but not when you consider that we have been abandoned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with the closure of two Catholic grade schools. Now, we have been ignored and denied any grade-school option by the city School District, which plans to close our last public school, Abigail Vare.

As a civic leader, I am extremely proud of our area. We have some incredible parks, restaurants, neighbors, and businesses. But how can I convince young families to move into these beautiful half-million-dollar homes or stay in the neighborhood when I have zero options for educating their children?

James E. Moylan, president, Pennsport Civic Association, Philadelphia, pennsport@aol.com

Making the grade on teacher pay

New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf is right to raise the college grade-point-average requirement for new teachers from the current minimum of 2.75 to 3.0. A higher GPA requirement not only would promote teachers with strong academic records, but would also deter less-viable candidates who may find it difficult to meet student needs in this much-demanding profession.

If the goal of these policies, however, is to attract better candidates into the teaching labor market, concomitant reform of teacher pay will go further than a mere GPA requirement. As an urban, non-unionized charter-school science teacher, I teach a high-need subject in a low-income setting. But I am paid considerably less and enjoy less job security than either my urban or suburban colleagues. Not surprisingly, the research shows that nearly half of new math and science teachers leave urban teaching within the first five years, citing poor pay as one of the top two factors.

Reforming the teaching supply pool will require the state to analyze many factors - teacher education programs, teacher pay, unions, evaluations, and more. Piecemeal reforms will not only distort the teacher labor market, but will do little to improve quality.

Ethan Ake, Philadelphia, ethanake@gmail.com

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