The Philadelphia Student Union Answers the Call

by Christopher Paslay


Chalk up another victory for the Philadelphia Student Union.  On Thursday they held a rally on the steps of Masterman High School that gleaned the attention of the Inquirer, Philadelphia’s biggest newspaper.  Now this prodigious group of Philly teens strikes again with an impressive response to yesterday’s blog, “To Members of the Philadelphia Student Union: You Must Speak Out Against Truancy”.


Dan Jones wrote the official comment, and it was very well crafted indeed (I am a high school English teacher so I read student writing with a critical eye).  The thing that impressed me the most was the timeliness of it: his response came not even four hours after I posted the blog entry.  That’s great journalism. 


Well done, Dan.  Again, it’s refreshing to see students taking stock in their educations.  Not only that, but getting active in the community in a positive way.  To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about the PSU, but Dan certainly enlightened me.  And I give the PSU website two thumbs up!


To keep the lines of communication open (because that’s what this is all about anyway, right?), I’d like to further discuss two points Dan made in his response to yesterday’s blog. 


The first is that Dan faults the “system” for the lack of parental and community involvement in education in Philadelphia.  He stated, “we argue that these things are not the fault of the people, but rather of a broken system that is failing everyone . . .”


This is where I disagree.  There is no such thing as “the system,” some detached entity that exists in a vacuum.  People ARE the system—parents, teachers, students, etc.  If we work, than the system works.  Just as members of the PSU have distinguished themselves with their activism and thirst for knowledge, so must parents and community; I do not accept the arbitrary excuse of a broken “system”.


The second idea I’d like to discuss is the PSU’s idea that parents must choose between work and their child’s education (as stated on their website).  As the old saying goes, a mother doesn’t divide her love between her children, she multiplies it.  The same goes for education: Moms and dads must extend their days (by getting up a half hour earlier perhaps) in order to MAKE time in their schedules to help their children with school.


Thank you again Dan for your insightful comments.  I am thoroughly impressed with you and the PSU.  I hope I can establish a dialogue with all of you, and I’ll visit your website often. 

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