Hughes’ Boos a Ruse

In the absence of facts and any plausible excuse for poor performance, it’s always a good time to attack the messenger.  As if on cue, this well-worn strategy was trotted out just moments ago on the Senate Floor by none other than Sen. Vincent Hughes.

Via Twitter, here are some of his observations:

  • 1) Commenting on the floor re: Commonwealth Foundation calling Philly schools ‘hell holes’ and students ‘future criminals, welfare recipients’
  • 2) Commonwealth Foundation owe these students and their families an apology
  • 3) Commonwealth Foundation language is unacceptable!
  • 4) What kind of stigma is Commonwealth Foundation putting on these students with this language
  • 5) These students need to be given hope and opportunity, not be torn down by Commonwealth Foundation

Where do we start?  How about with facts:

Anthony Herbert, a student who was forced to drop out of a failing and violent public school, where he was mugged twice and experienced constant violence at West Philadelphia High School, called his school a hellhole.  Here is his story and quote:

Senator, if a violent act every 17 minutes including rapes, robberies and riots doesn’t constitute a hellhole, what does it take?  Every 10?  That 68 percent of Pennsylvania state inmates are high school dropouts doesn’t bother you either?

The Commonwealth Foundation didn’t create the hellholes, but we sure aren’t going to apologize for trying to rescue kids from them! 

Moreover, the senator is right about unacceptable, but it isn’t the language that is offensive, it’s the conditions these students endure daily.  When kids go to schools where 9 out of 10 students are not meeting basic proficiency in reading and math while their Three Rs are riots, robberies and rapes instead of reading, writing and arithmetic, THAT is unacceptable. 

What’s more unacceptable:  Lawmakers protecting systems and special interests instead of kids first.

If Sen. Hughes is more worried about the stigma put on children from a CF letter to those who elect to receive our materials, rather than the stigma of not being able to read or the stigma created by physical or sexual assault, then his constituents have a serious problem.

Finally, his notion that, “These students need to be given hope and opportunity,” is right on.  But Senator, that is exactly what we are calling on YOU to give them!  Hope and opportunity will only happen when we remove the status quo that has condemned far too many students to a life of poverty.