Families, groups take on Philly school closing plan

February 6, 2013 3:16:33 PM PST
A Philadelphia family took to the streets this morning, hoping action speaks louder than words.

Facing the prospect of seeing their school closed by the district, they're trying to open a dialogue about what that might mean for children's safety.

Arica Simms is asking the Philadelphia School District to walk a mile in her children's shoes. When the school district announced they would close 37 schools to save $28 million per year, Simms learned two of her school-age children, James and Abdul, would have to walk a little over a mile to E Washington Rhodes High School. The family lives near Judson and West Lehigh and the kids currently attend T.M. Pierce only two blocks away.

"I understand they need to make cuts but why close all 37?" Simms asked.

Wednesday morning Simms, Councilman Curtis Jones and Action United walked the distance together, which took about 20 minutes. Arica Simms says it's not just the length of time she's worried about, it's also the safety for her kids.

"They are 2 little boys," she says, "they're not big boys and they're walking from one part of North Philly to another by themselves."

Councilman Curtis Jones, who represents the 4th district, added, "Look at the time it took, and the streets aren't safe. We saw drug paraphernalia on the ground."

Jones and the group Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools are pushing for a moratorium on the closures until a review of safety, transportation and cost issues can be examined.

Simms, who does not have a car, says if nothing changes getting to her job on time could be put in jeopardy.