A great education reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent published a piece on research about “Friends of” groups in Philadelphia. The study uses “shadow state” theory to put these groups in context. (I started a little twitter convo with one of the sources.)
The groups are a feature of unequal school funding and the increase of white/wealthy parents into previously poorer districts with nonwhite racial demographics. The whole article is interesting, but I found this map really important:
Here are changes in household income by catchment. Obviously the areas with big changes have “Friends of” groups, which are wealthier and whiter. I want to see the actual map to zoom in, but I’m pretty sure Kingsessing is a little white area in the southwestern most corner of the bolded West block. That means there was a decline in income in the area, but just south of Cedar Park, which has had an increase. (I started a little twitter convo with one of the sources.)
The article also made me think: should Comegys have a “Friends of” group? Or should Philadelphia try to pool independently raised funds like Portland does? Is that a possible organizing demand? These are very different organizing project. They probably both need to happen. Perhaps a “Friends of” group in Comegys could agitate for pooled resources, while also calling for regional tax swaps policy. It could be an interesting platform from which to advocate for that legislation.
The second interesting article is from early last year. Apparently a philosophy professor at Penn has a program at Comegys for students and teacher. This is a positive piece of news about Comegys, but it’s also interesting for me personally. Just yesterday I was describing this project to two old friends, one of whom organized philosophy for children circles in favelas in Brazil. He suggested doing a program like that at the school– and here’s someone already doing it! I also organized similar programs in DC when I was an undergraduate philosophy student. Things come full circle.
I’d like to get in touch with the professor and talk to her about the program, possibly get involved, but also propose a parents-oriented philosophy program as well. This could be another way to start organizing a Friends of group, or what Freire used to call culture circles.