Report of Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Education Chair: Honorable Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez Resolution Sponsor: Honorable Katherine Gilmore Richardson Pursuant to Resolution No. 200395
Office of Katherine Gilmore Richardson Councilmember At-Large | City Hall Room 581 | (215) 686-0454 Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson
TABLE OF CONTENTS Background ........................................................................................... 1 Introduction .......................................................................................... 2 Panel Descriptions ................................................................................ 3 Hearing Findings ................................................................................... 5 Hearing Recommendations ................................................................. 12 Appendix A (Resolution No. 200395) .................................................. 16 Appendix C (School District Presentation) .......................................... 20 Appendix E (Philadelphia Works Presentation) ................................... 22 Appendix H (Dr. Toni Damon’s Testimony) ........................................... 29 Appendix J (Dr. Pam Carter’s Testimony) ............................................. 33
BACKGROUND ABOUT THE HEARING AND THIS REPORT Resolution No. 200395 authorized City Council’s Committee on Education to conduct a hearing to investigate curriculum realignment opportunities within the School District of Philadelphia to ensure preparedness for post-COVID-19 career opportunities based on Philadelphia's labor market forecast. This resolution was the first resolution heard in the Committee on Education on Thursday, November 12, 2020 and featured witnesses from the School District of Philadelphia, as well the Administration and the Community College of Philadelphia. This report is derived from the verbal and written testimony given during the hearing and related resources available after the hearing.
CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION All matters relating to education in the public schools of Philadelphia excepting matters referred to the Committee of the Whole. COMMITTEE MEMBERS Councilmember Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez, Chair Councilmember Helen Gym, Vice Chair Councilmember Kendra Brooks Councilmember David Oh Councilmember Mark Squilla Councilmember Isaiah Thomas Councilmember Jamie Gauthier
INTRODUCTION Aligning career and technical education programs with the job market to create a pipeline from class to career is imperative for the future of our city. As a central place where children learn and grow, schools must offer a curriculum that prepares them for family sustaining careers. While the School District of Philadelphia does provide a wide variety of career and technical education programming and is working to make additional changes to its curriculum, we must work quickly and collaboratively to ensure that school district graduates are prepared for the competitive job market that exists in Philadelphia today. This report details the findings from the Thursday, November 12, 2020 hearing on Resolution 200395. The report also offers recommendations for the School District, the Administration, and City Council to implement changes to improve our workforce pipeline for school district students. The hearing findings make clear that the career and technical education curriculum in Philadelphia public schools needs to align better with current and future economic trends to ensure children in school now will be able to start a career when they graduate. Too many children feel that there are no opportunities and no ways to earn a better life. Providing career and technical education programming and exposing young people to different types of careers can help change that.
PANEL DESCRIPTIONS PANEL 1: LABOR MARKET INDICATORS The first panel featured Patrick Clancy from Philadelphia Works, the City of Phildelphia’s workforce development board. Clancy testified about the process currently in place to align labor market needs with career and technical education programs and the current data on the Philadelphia labor market. Two witnesses from the Administration also offered testimony for the hearing. Catie Wolfgang from the Department of Commerce offered testimony on the skills students need to better compete and prepare for the current and future labor market. Lastly, Michael A. Zaccagni from the Office of Human Resources (OHR) testified about the programs currently in place for students to learn trades and how OHR works with the School District to update the career and technical education curriculum. • Patrick Clancy, President and CEO, Philadelphia Works • Catherine Wolfgang, Senior Director of Workforce & Policy Strategy, Department of Commerce1 • Michael A. Zaccagni, Human Resources Director, Office of Human Resources (written testimony) PANEL 2: SCHOOL DISTRICT AND CITY EDUCATION OFFICIALS The second panel featured two officials from the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), Michelle Armstrong and Alexandrea Robinson-Rogers, who discussed current career and technical education programs, the strategies behind the current programs, their review process, and the School District’s current goals for career and technical education students. Toni Damon, Principal of Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School, discussed the school’s current classes and how programs can be better supported to help children have job opportunities upon graduation. Lastly, Otis Hackney, the Chief Education Officer for the Mayor’s Office of Education, testified about the current collaborative work of the Administration and the School District to provide opportunities and support for all students through scholarships and internships, and a push to get more students in postsecondary schools. • Michelle Armstrong, Executive Director, Office of Career and Technical Education, School District of Philadelphia • Alexandrea Robinson-Rogers, Executive Director, Office of Postsecondary Readiness, School District of Philadelphia • Toni Damon, Principal, The Murrell Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School • Otis Hackney, Chief Education Officer, Mayor’s Office of Education
1 Catie Wolfgang offered testimony on behalf of Sylvie Gallier Howard, former Acting Director of the Department of Commerce
PANEL 4: ADULT CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION & WORKFORCE TRAINING The third panel featured testimony from Dr. Pam Carter, Dean for Business and Technology at the Community College of Philadelphia, and Laura Rigell, Solar Manager for the Philadelphia Energy Authority. Dr. Pam Carter testified about the workforce development strategies CCP utilizes to get adults trained and skilled for the current labor market, as well as how the School District and City can improve workforce development programs. Laura Rigell spoke about one of the growing industries in Philadelphia: solar energy. • Dr. Pam Carter, Dean for Business and Technology, Community College of Philadelphia • Laura Rigell, Solar Manager, Philadelphia Energy Authority PANEL 4: STUDENTS The fourth panel featured testimony from four students who offered their perspectives of the different career and technical education programs and classes they took part in, as well as ways we can improve outreach and communication to students to better promote career and technical education enrollment. • Jeramie Miller, Ben Franklin High School • Jeron Williams II, Central High School • Kristen Brown, Academy at Palumbo • Ta’Sean McMullin, OIC Philadelphia
PUBLIC COMMENT Marie Patterson is the Chair of the Dobbins School Advisory Committee and offered her knowledge of what the School District needs to improve and change.
HEARING FINDINGS Philadelphia continues to see strong job growth in certain industries and economic sectors. In order to recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19, it is imperative that the City helps put people back to work and staves off future economic downturns by strategically building strong workforce pipelines into growing industries. During the initial lockdown, from March 16, 2020 until May 31, 2020, initial unemployment claims rose 1273% compared to the previous year.2 In addition, 50.8% of those who filed an initial unemployment claim during this period were 34 years old or younger.3 While many areas of the economy suffered, Pat Clancy, President and CEO of Philadelphia Works, testified that warehouse, computer and IT, mental health, and medical jobs are on the rise in Philadelphia.4 Philadelphia Works is capitalizing on the growth of some of these sectors. For example, they partnered with the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) to begin construction on a new automotive and advanced manufacturing training facility in West Philadelphia.5 Investing in the industries identified in Philadelphia Works’ research can aid Philadelphia in improving career opportunities for residents and creating a skilled workforce that makes the City more attractive to employers. More collaboration and partnerships with employers are needed to increase opportunities for School District of Philadelphia students. The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) has a number of industry partners which they highlighted during their presentation (slide below). These partners offer workplace experience for students.
2 3 4 5
Jobless Report. Philadelphia Works. Published June 10, 2020. Accessed on February 8, 2021. https://www.philaworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Jobless-Brief.pdf p. 2. Id. p. 6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAaj7ayU8zQ&t=10s at 11:03; Patrick Clancy: Transcript p. 13. Id.
We want to be sure that we’re providing students with the hands-on opportunities so that they have the work readiness and industry-specific skills. And so we are looking to get increased employer engagement through our partnerships that we’re hoping to build, and we definitely need students to be exposed into jobs in growing industries. So we need to continue to look at the data that’s coming out and the research and start identifying the shifts and making sure that we are making adjustments internally the best way that we can. Ali Robinson-Rogers: Transcript. p.48 SDP expresses a great interest in partnerships and collaboration, but current partnerships are limited. Some of the listed partners only have programs with one school, such as the Philly Shipyard and PECO.7 Additionally, there are many potential partners that are absent completely from career and technical education partnerships. Dr. Pam Carter, the Dean for Business and Technology at the Community College of Philadelphia, further highlighted the need for greater collaboration between SDP and its partners.
6 Preparing Students for Life After High School: Careers that Matter (SDP PowerPoint Presentation). 7 High School Directory. School District of Philadelphia. https://www.philasd.org/cte/wp-content/uploads/sites/155/2020/09/HS-Directory-2021-for-web-2020-09-17.pdf.
While productive, there is room for expansion and greater proactive collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia, while concurrently making stronger connections with Philadelphia employers. Dr. Pam Carter: Transcript pgs. 93-94.
Philadelphia Works believes SDP plays an important role in making young people aware of potential post-graduate career opportunities,8 and they are willing to assist SDP with aligning career and technical education programs with high-growth career pathways and to train SDP staff to provide better information to interested students. 9, 10 Career and technical education programs should train students to enter the fastest-growing industries. Over the last few decades, Philadelphia has seen significant growth in warehousing, healthcare, and solar energy, all of which currently offer opportunities for job placement and are poised to see more growth in the future. Career and technical education programs need to adapt to give students the skills and certifications to fill a wide range of jobs in these fields. Laura Rigell, Solar Manager at the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA), spoke about Philadelphia’s solar market, and the successful training programs PEA supports. Clean energy jobs, particularly those in solar energy, offer significant opportunity. For every 100 solar panels installed in Philadelphia, 15 living wage jobs are created.11
…The Philadelphia Energy Authority also supported PowerCorpsPHL to establish a new Bright Solar Futures fellowship in the Spring of this year to offer a parallel pathway for opportunity youth, young adults aged 18 to 30 who are un- or under-employed. 11 of the 12 graduates from this new Bright Solar Futures fellowship were placed into employment in the summer of this year despite COVID. Laura Rigell: Transcript pgs. 95-96. Beyond the Bright Solar Futures fellowship, PEA has partnered with SDP to bring the nation’s first solar career and technical education program to Frankford High School.12 As the solar industry grows, the City’s early investment in workforce training ensures we will be ready to meet the demand.
8 Patrick Clancy: Transcript p. 13. 9 Id. 10 Id. See also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAaj7ayU8zQ&t=1160s at 23:40. 11 https://philaenergy.org/programs-initiatives/solarize-philly/ 12 Laura Rigell: Transcript pgs. 95-96.
Ta’Sean McMullin, a graduate of the Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center Workforce Academy’s smart energy training program, testified about the opportunities it created for him. 13 I graduated from the OIC (Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center Workforce Academy) class in July 2020. This class taught me the basic steps of solar, which involved understanding the racking and electrical systems and what it takes to be involved in a solar company. It prepped me to know what to have tool wise and mentally to be productive and ready for a job in the field of solar. Beyond solar taught me how to be professional and focused in my work. Ta’Sean McMullin: Written Testimony p. 1. By making career programs in fast-growing industries available in secondary schools, students will be able to transition to the job market more quickly or to more advanced training and certification programs, helping increase their lifetime earnings. Beyond the growing solar industry, many of the other fastest growing job sectors are not well represented in the current suite of career and technical education programs. There are currently no specific programs dedicated to warehouse jobs, one of the fastest growing job sectors in Philadelphia.14 Additionally, the Philly Shipyard recently announced a government contract to build “up to five vessels for the U.S. Maritime Administration.”15 The Philly Shipyard’s own website has a section for apprenticeship opportunities, but SDP has only developed a single school partnership between Philip Randolph Career Academy and Philly Shipyard, despite five schools offering welding programs.16 Career and technical education programs begin in the tenth grade, but research shows ninth grade is the most important year for students. Core subjects are crucial to students’ lifelong learning and professional careers. Skills such as reading, writing, and math are central to career readiness, but not offering career and technical education programming to ninth graders means we are losing a year to engage students at a cricital time. A combination of attendance, behavior, and course performance in the ninth grade can provide insight into whether a student will continue their education or drop out.17 The current class schedule structure required by SDP starts career and technical education classes in tenth grade, while the ninth grade has block scheduling dedicated to core curriculum classes, such as English and Math.
13 Ta’Sean McMullin: Written Testimony p. 1. 14 High School Directory. School District of Philadelphia. https://www.philasd.org/cte/wp-content/uploads/sites/155/2020/09/HS-Directory-2021-for-web-2020-09-17.pdf. 15 Dunn, Catherine. “‘The sun is shining’ at Philly Shipyard as hundreds of jobs return this year, CEO says.” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 19, 2021. Accessed on February 7, 2021. https://www.inquirer.com/business/philly-shipyard-jobs-navy-yard-philadelphia-trump-toomey-schumer-20210119.html. 16 High School Directory. School District of Philadelphia. 17 Willens, Michele. Ninth Grade: The Most Important Year in High School. The Atlantic, November 1, 2013. Accessed on February 7, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/11/ninth-grade-the-most-important-year-in-high-school/281056/.
Number two, maybe removing the strict block scheduling that focused on academic remediation and interventions in the 9th grade and 10th grade. Allow students entering CTE programs as freshman and sophomores the opportunity to develop and create an innovation that originally led them to apply for the career and technical school in the first place… Lastly, I close with Pennsylvania Department of Education provides CTE subsidy as early as 9th grade, and now I learned as early as 5th grade. I have met with parents, students, and Dobbins roster chair and administrators in regard to this. There is no reason or explanation why the School District of Philadelphia does not allow 9th grade students at the CTE school to begin their CTE training as soon as they start high school. Benefits of this move far outweigh the costs. It is recommended that we explote [sic] this to generate additional revenue to the school budget as we begin to prepare the students for early college and career tech. Marie Patterson: Transcript pgs. 225-227.
Students in career and technical schools, who may be interested in learning a career, are instead forced onto a strict academic track. While students were previously required to be proficient in the Keystone Exam subjects of Algebra 1, Literature, and Biology in order to graduate, that requirement was eliminated four years ago. …[A]lthough all students are required to take the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams for purposes of federal accountability and reporting, CTE concentrators who successfully complete the graduation pathways set forth in Act 6 are deemed to have achieved statewide graduation requirements. However, all students must also satisfy the graduation requirements adopted by the Local Education Agency's (LEA) governing board in order to graduate. Graduation Requirements for Career and Technical Education Act 6 of 2017. Pennsylvania Department of Education. Additionally, four-year career and technical education programs are also explicitly detailed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Act 6 defines a CTE concentrator as a student who, by the end of a reporting year, will be reported as successfully completing at least 50 percent of the minimum technical instructional hours required under 22 Pa. Code Ch. 339 (relating to vocational education). The student must be enrolled in a PDE-approved CTE program to be considered a CTE concentrator. For a 4-year program that provides a minimum of 1,320 hours of vocational program instruction, a CTE student achieves concentrator status after completing 660 hours of vocational program instruction. Most students enrolled in a 4-year program should reach concentrator status at the end of the sophomore year. Id.
Lastly, Local Education Agencies (LEA), like SDP, have the final say over grading and scheduling at career and technical education schools.
Each LEA determines the minimum grade requirement for each course related to the academic content area. Id.
While a core curriculum is important and students must be proficient in reading and math, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has allowed for the focus at career and technical education schools to be exclusively on the success of students learning trades, not subjects tested on the Keystone Exam. The evidence has long supported the importance of ninth grade as the most valuable period for high school students. Expanding career and technical education classes to ninth graders offers important opportunities and can expose a student to another option beyond a textbook. Intergovernmental collaboration is necessary for effective career and technical education programs. The state is a crucial partner when it comes to creating career and technical education programs that are aligned with careers in growing industries. First, they determine which certifications are required for career and technical education programs.
The state has a very prescribed list of those industry certifications that they will give the District credit for…I call it the industry matrix, the industry certification matrix, which outlines all of the programs, all the certifications that are aligned to the programs, and what year in which the students are to take it. Michelle Armstrong: Transcript pgs. 74-75
Second, the state helps establish new programs by providing technical assistance and other curriculum development.
…case in point, our new solar program. They worked with us to share with us what are those elements necessary in order to create the program…They have been a great partner on technical assistance for that, and we have worked to open up that program. Michelle Armstrong: Transcript pg. 77
Local and state partnership is crucial to effectively evaluate, improve, and grow our career and technical education programs. In addition to the technical support and collaboration on curriculum, education funding, grant funding for workforce development programs, and support for career and technical educators are important roles the state plays in ensuring our local workforce system is operating at the highest level.
HEARING RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendations for the School District of Philadelphia 1. SDP should begin teaching students career and technical education classes in ninth grade. A strict block scheduling approach focused only on core subjects for students in ninth grade is not the best approach for students. Ninth grade is an invaluable time for students that must be utilized in the most effective way. Students should be able to enroll in career and technical education programming for four full years, as allowed by our state’s Department of Education. In Philadelphia, CTE schools are treated like traditional high schools, placing the primary focus on academics. Workforce has indicated that the primary skills needed for future jobs will require skilled labor. They are looking for individuals who possess the 21st century skills, like critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity, and social skills. Marie Patterson: Transcript pgs. 223-224 Currently, students who may have an interest in a career are not able to explore that path until tenth grade. SDP has the ability to rework the curriculum and create a dynamic and flexibile curriculum for students interested in career and technical education to get the academic skills they need while also allowing them to start training in their preferred field. 2. SDP, Commerce, and Philadelphia Works should have more frequent meetings to ensure that the career and technical education curriculum is aligned with economic indicators. SDP holds an annual official meeting with partners to discuss career and technical education, but that is not enough. As highlighted above, SDP officials understand the need to partner with businesses across Philadelphia to provide more internships and opportunities for Philadelphia students, and more frequent collaboration could help achieve that goal.
To ensure preparedness for post-COVID-19 career opportunities, a holistic ecosystem approach to collaborative problem solving is envisioned. One of the important lessons of the COVID-19 response is that a systematic, collaborative community approach is required to quickly achieve positive, large-scale community outcomes. Dr. Pam Carter: Transcript pgs. 93-94 SDP should better utilize the available research and resources to make sure their career readiness programs are helping prepare students for jobs in growing industries. SDP should collaborate more regularly with Philadelphia Works and Commerce to ensure pathways to employment are realized. 3. SDP should continue and expand collaboration with the state to ensure career and technical education programs are well funded and meeting the demands of the labor market. The state has significant oversight over career and technical education, ranging from program development to certifications to funding. So they are now looking at also what are the studies showing, where are those areas in which we need to pivot our programming so that our young people actually have and could have life-sustaining wages. And we are working with them to look at what are the competencies that are in our existing programs and how do we make them more rigorous and strengthened, and then how do we create new programs to align with what industry and all of the data showing us… Michelle Armstrong: Transcript pgs. 77-78 By increasing collaboration with the state, SDP may be able to take advantage of additional opportunities or more quickly adapt programs to meet the needs of employers in Philadelphia, helping students get into careers faster upon graduation.
Recommendations for City Council 1. City Councilmembers should use their relationships to help build more employer partnerships for the School District. City Council plays a role in attracting and developing businesses in Philadelphia. Creating a strong talent pipeline is crucial to achieving that goal. In order to be successful in providing as many students as possible with quality career exposure and experience, we will need to engage as many of our employers as possible, including large corporations and small businesses. We ask for Council’s partnership in reaching out to employers to ensure a robust pool of opportunities for our young people. Catie Wolfgang: Transcript pg. 18 City Councilmembers have strong relationships with businesses and business organizations and can work with the Administration, the School District, and non-profits to help identify target employers for internship and apprenticeship opportunites. City Councilmembers know which jobs are coming to their districts and can work directly with those employers to develop programs in tandem with SDP. This collaboration will develop more skilled workers for those jobs and encourage employers to make an investment in Philadelphia. Recommendations for the Administration 1. The Administration should collaborate with SDP to ensure jobs in the City can be ﬁlled. Workforce training is not only crucial for the private sector, but the public sector also needs to prepare for a significant wave of retirements. Three quarters of the City’s workforce will be eligible for retirement in about 12 years., 18 SDP should be a collaborative partner with the Office of Human Resources and others in the Administration to ensure school district graduates have direct pathways to city employment. A collaboration with SDP will require the Administration to take a more active role and greater responsibility to ensure students have the skills necessary to fill necessary jobs. …We have an expression on the Mayor’s side of model employer, so how can we from the City be a model of these efforts and creating more of those spaces and opportunities for young people to come in and participate, to shadow and learn about how City government works and just to be a part of the process… Otis Hackney: Transcript pg. 81
The Administration stated that it takes seriously career and technical education and job readiness for students, and some departments have developed direct internships, apprenticeships, and even reconfigured job specifications to help bring in more school district graduates. This is an important start, but all departments should be taking this active approach to recruitment, so the City truly becomes a model employer. 2. The Administration should help build partnerships between SDP and private employers in Philadelphia. The Administration is in a strong position to build relationships between private employers and SDP. The Administration, through permitting, licensing, or direct conversations can interact with employers directly and advocate on behalf of SDP to develop job training opportunities for SDP students. A more active approach with employers will be necessary to support current Philadelphia businesses to develop future employees, as well as encourage outside businesses to relocate into Philadelphia. Achieving and sustaining Philadelphia’s commitment to an equitable economic recovery requires a robust career-connected learning system to ensure all young people graduate from high school inspired to achieve their career goals and prepared for the rigor involved in earning industry-valued post-secondary credentials. Catie Wolfgang: Transcript pg. 18
18 Pew. Hiring and Employment in Philadelphia City Government. Pew, June 2018. Accessed on February 15, 2021. https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/assets/2018/06/hiring_and_employment_in_philadelphia_city_government_report.pdf.
APPENDIX A Resolution No. 200395 Authorizing the Committee on Education to conduct hearings to investigate curriculum realignment opportunities within the School District of Philadelphia to ensure preparedness for Post-COVID-19 career opportunities based upon Philadelphia’s labor market forecast. WHEREAS, In the wake of the devastation to the economy and job market caused by COVID19, long term income stability, and poverty-reducing job growth will depend on strong education, skills development, and changes to the educational curriculum in Philadelphia that are reflective of the reality we face in a transition to a post-COVID-19 workforce; and WHEREAS, Between March 10, 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Philadelphia and May 31, 2020, nearly 172,000 Philadelphian residents filed initial claims for unemployment compensation. Over 32,000 of those applications were filed by Philadelphians that were under the age of 25; and WHEREAS, An open dialogue and partnership with the School District of Philadelphia wherein we share information and assist them with redeveloping a curriculum that is necessary to support our young people in finding and creating the jobs that will support them and their families moving forward; and WHEREAS, The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health and economic well-being of Philadelphians. It exacerbates preexisting inequities that young adults and their communities have long faced, leaving many with few opportunities to protect their health and continue earning a paycheck to support their families; and WHEREAS, Since the Pennsylvania Governor’s Stay at Home Order on March 13, 2020, young adults have experienced a disproportionate share of job loss and are likely to remain unemployed even after the shutdown ends; and WHEREAS, Young adults fared poorly during and after the 2008 recession, never fully recovering from the economic damage; and WHEREAS, Thousands of Philadelphia residents have been laid off and numerous businesses have been forced to close. In fact, in April, the unemployment rate within Philadelphia County reached 16.5%; and WHEREAS, The financial effects of COVID-19 have been particularly detrimental to individuals experiencing poverty, since their earnings are already not satisfying their financial obligations. A loss of hours or layoffs simply adds to the burden faced by communities in poverty; and WHEREAS, The shutdown and quarantine has revealed that Philadelphia may need to rethink some of its strategies in improving curriculum and preparation for entry into the labor market and determining how best to prepare the workforce for the types of jobs that will emerge as a result of the pandemic; and 16
RESOLVED, THE CITY COUNCIL OF PHILADELPHIA, Hereby authorizes the Committee on Education to conduct hearings to investigate curriculum realignment opportunities within the School District of Philadelphia to ensure preparedness for Post-COVID-19 career opportunities based upon Philadelphia’s labor market forecast.
APPENDIX B Alexandrea Robinson Rogers and Michelle Armstrong School District Testimony Committee on Education Hearing on Resolution No. 200395 Written Testimony of Alexandrea Robinson Rogers, ED of Postsecondary Readiness With support from Michelle Armstrong, ED of Career and Technical Education November 12, 2020 Good afternoon Councilwoman Richardson and members of the Committee on Education. My name is Alexandrea Robinson-Rogers and I am the Executive Director of Postsecondary Readiness for The School District of Philadelphia. Thank you for allowing my colleague Michelle Armstrong, Executive Director for Career and Technical Education and I, to provide written testimony on resolution number 200395. Preparing students for Careers that Matter requires us to combine rigorous academics with a strong curriculum, work-based learning opportunities, and ensure students are supported by focused career planning and guidance. The School District of Philadelphia has established a broad vision around the work of preparing students for life after high school. Senate Bill 1095 signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 24, 2018 changed the reliance on high-stakes testing as a graduation requirement to provide alternative pathways for high school students to demonstrate readiness for postsecondary success. Our focus has shifted to include the following: 1. Developing access to pathways resources and systems to ensure all students can make use of these alternate pathways to graduation and have the appropriate support; 2. Ensuring all students transition from high school and into postsecondary experiences that lead to high demand careers through increased career awareness, exposure and immersion: via college, military or work; 3. Provide opportunities for all students to meet the profile of a graduate characteristics which include being a critical thinker, creative and innovative practitioner, great communicator, skillful and knowledgeable professional, culturally competent citizen and a healthy human; 4. Focus on aligning all postsecondary supports to Future Ready PA as outlined by the PA Department of Education. The most recent ways that the School District of Philadelphia is working to ensure all students are prepared for life after high school are through career infused curricula, Career Connected Learning and Pathways to Success. Students need to gain real life experiences and understand the connection of skills to careers. We have started on the journey to ensure that career and education work standards are embedded into core content areas, and that core content and industry standards are deeply rooted and highlighted in Career and Technical Education curriculum; ensuring that a deep 18
commitment to learning is being distributed with equity and that the needs of special education students and English language learners are prioritized. We also understand that no single institution can provide district students with everything they need to succeed in jobs of the future. Through Career Connected Learning the district is building strong partnerships with the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Works, workforce training partners and post secondary institutions to ensure all students can succeed in high school, postsecondary, and eventually their career. This partnership has already started to springboard opportunities to operationalize systems for shadowing opportunities, mentorships, internships and apprenticeships. Moreover, we are supporting this work through the development of Pathways guidance which has recently been released on The School District website and allows students to explore career interests and connect that to high school selection and specialized programs like CTE, JROTC and Dual Enrollment programs. Rigorous coursework prepares students by teaching them skills useful in school, the business world, and in life. Strengthening the rigor of courses and increasing access to these courses is critical in our goal of raising student achievement levels, particularly for students who have historically been underrepresented in those courses. Students who complete a pathway which includes any of the rigorous coursework strategies are positioned to take advantage of postsecondary opportunities and are better prepared to enter the job market. Career and Technical Education is one of multiple rigorous coursework strategies. In previous years, the School District made Career and Technical Education a priority, with the goals of improving the quality and access of CTE programs. That work continues not only in CTE classes but in our dual credit and early college programs, many of which are career focused and driven through partnership with The City of Philadelphia, Community College of Philadelphia and other institutions of higher learning. The School District of Philadelphia is committed to preparing all students for the workforce of tomorrow. Pathways that prepare students for college and career readiness include CTE concentrations, dual credit opportunities, and early college high schools. Career embedded curriculum and accelerated learning will help students remain on-track and will be more critical in mitigating the impacts of possible learning loss that may result from the COVID-19 pandemic. Improving access to these pathways requires us to expand and increase efforts to prepare students early and often and requires a broad commitment on the behalf of the city at large to ensure students have access to work-based learning opportunities, by working with employers to join the effort.
APPENDIX C School District of Philadelphia Presentation
APPENDIX D Patrick Clancy Testimony Background Philadelphia Works is the City of Philadelphia’s Workforce Development Board. In this capacity, Philadelphia Works receives federal and state funds to assist residents of Philadelphia to increase their skill level and connect to employment. The staff at Philadelphia Works Inc also analyses employment trends and provides information about growing occupations in the city and southeast PA region. Response to Resolution Philadelphia Works Inc is prepared to assist the School District of Philadelphia with its review of the Career and Technical Education programs within the lens of Post-Covid. Current economic data shows strong career pathways in healthcare occupations, IT occupations, Social Work/Mental Health related occupations, mechanical (automotive repair,HVAC) trades and e-commerce occupations (warehouse distribution).Successful career pathway models include active employer engagement in the development of the program, internships and career awareness/job shadowing opportunities. The common skills needed across all occupations include digital literacy, effective communication and problem-solving skills and the ability to work in teams and independently. Philadelphia Works is prepared to assist the School District of Philadelphia in any way possible to build effective career pathways within the Career and Technical Education division.
APPENDIX E Philadelphia Works Presentation
APPENDIX F Sylvie Gallier Howard’s Testimony Good afternoon Councilwoman Richardson and members of the Committee on Education. My name is Sylvie Gallier Howard and I am the Acting Director of Commerce. Thank you for allowing me to provide written testimony on Resolution No. 200395 which creates an opportunity for Council to better understand how the School District of Philadelphia is approaching curriculum realignment to ensure students are prepared for Post-COVID-19 career opportunities based upon Philadelphia's labor market forecast. The Department of Commerce is working closely with Philadelphia Works, PIDC, our employer partners and several local research experts to continually expand and refine our understanding of the immediate and longer term impact of the pandemic on hiring trends across Philadelphia. While there is still a good deal of uncertainty before us, a few things are immediately clear. The pandemic is speeding up the pace of automation and increasing the importance of post-secondary education and training. Whether it be to save money, or to prevent exposing front line workers to the virus, employers are increasingly motivated to rely on technology to perform essential tasks. This means many of the entry level, low skill jobs lost over the past eight months may not be coming back, making it hard for individuals with limited skills and industry credentials to find family-sustaining work. The good news, however, is that future job growth has the potential to include a greater proportion of well-paying middle skill jobs that provide healthcare and other benefits, and include opportunities for ongoing career advancement. To capitalize on these opportunities, Commerce is currently investing in diverse talent pipeline development in technology and life sciences, two sectors that have strong job growth and earning potential. Looking to the future, District graduates will need to develop the following to compete for these jobs: 1. Strong foundational skills in reading, math and digital literacy; 2. Baseline work readiness skills, including time management, dependability, teamwork and workplace communication; 3. Higher order thinking skills and problem solving abilities; and 4. A plan to pursue post-secondary education and skills training aligned to their career interest. The Department of Commerce is currently working in close partnership with the School District, Philadelphia Works, and others to build the infrastructure required to ensure students can participate in a robust array of Career Connected Learning opportunities that blend direct, real-world experience with rigorous and relevant classroom learning. This includes incorporating internships, job shadowing, and other forms of career exposure and work experience into the curriculum to help students gain an understanding of growing industries and workplace expectations critical to their long-term success. Achieving and sustaining Philadelphia’s commitment to an equitable economic recovery requires a robust Career Connected Learning system to ensure all young people graduate from high school inspired to achieve their career goals and prepared for the rigor involved in earning industry-valued postsecondary credentials. 25
In order to be successful in providing as many students as possible with quality career exposure and experience, we will need to engage as many of our employers as possible, including large corporations and small businesses. We ask for Council’s partnership in reaching out to employers to ensure a robust pool of opportunities for our young people. Thank you for taking the time to explore and understand this critical issue. If you have any further questions on the future of Philadelphia’s economy or how you can support our Career Connected Learning initiative, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Sylvie.GallierHoward@Phila.gov or 215683-2003.
APPENDIX G Michael Zaccagni’s Testimony Good afternoon, Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez and members of the Committee on Education. I am Michael Zaccagni for the Office of Human Resources (OHR) and I present the following testimony on Resolution 200395. The Office of Human Resources agrees that the current economic situation created by the COVID19 pandemic continues to significantly impact the Philadelphia job market, especially in our most vulnerable populations. However, the city and other employers will continue to need individuals to fill critical vacancies. We believe that students graduating from our area schools are an excellent recruitment source; providing the city with diverse candidates that have received structured education and training and offering a pathway for youth across the city. At this time, with the financial challenges the city faces, we continue to fill positions in critical areas. In order to best prepare and plan to address our staffing needs, we regularly meet with operating departments to discuss their employment needs and address those areas where we expect the greatest challenges. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the City of Philadelphia had a smaller percent change (loss) than surrounding Montgomery, Bucks and Delaware counties in construction, trades, transportation and utilities. This is encouraging for our skilled trades sector. For healthcare, the City suffered a lower percent change in the sector than our peer surrounding jurisdictions. We expect trades and technical positions to pose challenges even in the current labor market; most eligible lists for these types of positions have fewer candidates and are exhausted before the expiration date of the list. The City has a greatest need for plumbing and industrial electricians or mechanics, as well as Stationary Engineers and HVAC Technicians. Our goal is to focus on areas that can offer careers with excellent opportunities for advancement without college education including, healthcare and sciences, construction, trades and transportation, information technology, and public safety. For Public Health positions, OHR collaborates with Community College of Philadelphia to recruit Science Technicians, Air Pollution Control Inspectors, and other scientific roles. In the area of public safety, we are working with the Police Department and the Sheriff’s office to address their critical needs. For skilled trades, the City partners with the School District for entry level Surveying and skilled trades positions. The City supports a number of programs to provide pathways to permanent employment including the Philadelphia Water Department’s partnership with the School District (SDP) and Mayor’s Office PowerCorps program that offers opportunities in their Green Stormwater Unit and in Parks and Recreation, Future Track, a program that has led to the hiring of students from a number of SDP high schools, and Fleet Management’s Apprentice program. This past year we restructured several civil service positions to either include or align with students graduating from CTE programs including Office Clerk, Engineering Aide Trainee, Engineering Aide I, Trades Helper (for Mechanical and Electrical specialties), and Electronic Technician Trainee. SDP students have accounted for the majority of new hires in the positions of Trades Helper and Public Works Maintenance Trainee and we continue to see this as an important source of future employees. 27
The department recently joined the SDP’s Solar Energy Occupational Advisory Committee. The committee supports the SDP’s new program of study in Solar Energy for Career and Technical Education students. We are looking to align their programming once established with City of Philadelphia opportunities. We continue to engage with the SDP to encourage students to apply for positions and explore new opportunities. In addition, we continue to examine both our recruitment practices and our selection processes to better address our staffing needs and promote diversity. We are reviewing how we may modify training and experience requirements to expand our recruitment base and assessment tools to assure we are eliminating any implicit bias. In addition, we are implementing a strategy to promote the use of entry level trades positions. Prior to the pandemic, OHR hosted skilled trades job fairs and is planning on a Public Health recruitment campaign to host information sessions for hard to fill Public Health Laboratory positions and Health Center positions. This presence has moved to virtual platforms during the pandemic. Our goal is to attract the most qualified and diverse candidate population possible while providing employment opportunities for our residents. I apologize for not being able to provide certain demographic information that was requested for this hearing, but I will follow up with the Committee early next week to provide that. I thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony and we are available to discuss this important issue with you and your staff any time.
APPENDIX H Dr. Toni Damon’s Testimony Good afternoon! I want to start out by thanking Councilwoman Gilmore Richardson for this opportunity to speak today. As many of you know, my name is Dr. Toni Damon. I am the proud principal of Murrell Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School. I was born, raised, and educated in Philadelphia. I completed my undergraduate and graduate studies here in the Philadelphia region. While I have only worked here in the School District of Philadelphia for 8 years, my experience offers over 25 years of CTE instruction and leadership. I have worked in urban and suburban areas of the Commonwealth, and have served on committees at the State level for CTE. Additionally, I have worked in juvenile justice, owned a business here in Philadelphia, and certified in special education. Needless to say, I know a little something about what it takes to prepare the next generation of industry leaders. Dobbins currently has 12 CTE programs as a result of a $39M renovation. It is important to note that CTE is not your old vo-tech! Each and every one of our programs serve a dual purpose; to prepare students to go directly into the workforce with industry credentials and experience, and to ensure they are more than prepared to engage at the collegiate level. Students who attend Dobbins are aware upon admissions that we are a college prep technical high school. What this means is every program is aligned to a collegiate program. We strive to ensure that all students understand the importance of continuing their education at least part time while engaging in meaningful employment. While we have many of the traditional programs like cosmetology, barbering and culinary where the students earn State license and/or certification and are immediately ready for employment, we have other more emerging career programs like Networking Technology, BioMedical Technology and Digital Media where the students generally need to engage in internships in addition to their certifications to begin entry level employment. We believe strongly that requiring our students to engage in meaningful internships, community service and CTE programming aligned to targeted career pathways, our students are better prepared to meet the needs of industry and contribute to the economic development of this great city. Another point that many do not realize about CTE is that in addition to preparing students for the workforce, it also helps students identify what careers they do not want to pursue without spending thousands of dollars on a college education only to learn they really do not like a particular field. I appreciate that the City Council seeks to support and find opportunities for curricular alignment to better prepare students to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.. I believe as educators, we have the tools to do that and I think there are opportunities to expand access for our students both internally and with external partners. Those external partners include City Council--- to help expand access and opportunities for young people. We need you to lean in on organizations and business to allow and encourage shadowing and internship opportunities for students. I am fully aware of the opportunities through Philadelphia Youth Network during the summer and throughout the school year. Far too often businesses shy away from employing school aged students because of what they hear and see in the media. Unfortunately, it is because the youth have nothing else to do after school that we see these unfortunate incidents play out. 29
I strongly believe that together, the City and the School District can make a huge difference, but we need to align our energies and efforts in support of students, families, and in turn the entire City. Again, I thank you for this opportunity to provide testimony in support of career and technical education.
APPENDIX I Otis Hackney’s Testimony Good afternoon, my name is Otis Hackney and I am the Chief Education Officer for the City of Philadelphia. I would like to begin by thanking Councilwoman Richardson and the members of the Education Committee for inviting me to be part of the conversation about connecting our students to quality career pathways in Philadelphia. The work of the Mayor’s Office of Education is to advance quality education for all. Education provides a door to possibilities, and the quality of the experiences we provide as educators will shape futures. Of course, a large role of education is to propel young people on the path to economic prosperity. This is accomplished through a comprehensive continuum of academic, technical and social experiences that build upon each other as students move through our education systems. COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our life. It has accelerated the automation of work and disproportionately impacted communities with less education. At the same time, educators have had to rethink ways of educational delivery. My office has been working closely with the School District of Philadelphia and other city departments to ensure that our investment in high-quality education continues, that educators and schools have the community supports we need for all children to realize their potential, and that our students leave our public schools with clear options for postsecondary education so that they can secure the jobs of the future. Specifically, the Mayor’s Office of Education is working alongside the Department of Commerce in supporting the School District as it infuses career exploration and work readiness supports into all aspects of the curriculum. The School District is here today and will discuss the details of this work. I would like to emphasize, however, that these supports are essential for all students - not just the proportion that are in CTE programs. Looking at our own careers is a good example of this. I would imagine that all of you, like me, are where we are today because of the job shadowing, internship and apprenticeship experiences we had. Such exposure is critical whether you are on a traditional CTEfocused career path or not. Another critical strategy being led by my office is the City’s investment in the Community College of Philadelphia through the Octavius Catto Scholarship. As you know, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted individuals with less education. Of the 208,000+ Philadelphians who filed first time unemployment claims between March 15th and July 4th only 9% had a postsecondary credential. (See Slide 9 of attached PowerPoint presentation from Philadelphia Works.) Now more than ever, we need to ensure our public school graduates understand the pathway to a career must include postsecondary education. Stackable, postsecondary opportunities must be available to all of our youth. The Catto Scholarship provides a path by offering first-time, full-time CCP students with last-dollar tuition and funding to use towards basic needs such as books, food, and transportation. There are also additional staffing supports to ensure students are able to navigate the complexities of postsecondary education. Finally, the initiative includes dual enrollment slots for School District of Philadelphia students, a proven strategy for connecting first-generation and underrepresented students to college. 31
In conclusion, I would like to highlight three ways Council can support this important work: 1) Ensure adequate and equitable funding. This work requires continued investment. We must ensure adequate and equitable funding from our state and federal governments for our public education systems so that ALL students have the experiences they need for the jobs of the future. 2) Continue investments in postsecondary pathways and dual enrollment. Now more than ever, we need to help our students get TO and THROUGH postsecondary education. All living wage careers now require some form of post high school education. 3) Become a mentor and support employers to do the same. Careers don’t just happen, they are nurtured by mentors. We must all step up and play our role by mentoring, providing meaningful internships and ensuring that every young person we come in contact with has the individual cheerleaders they need to succeed. Thank you for your time today, I look forward to continuing the conversation about this important topic. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
APPENDIX J Dr. Pam Carter’s Testimony Good afternoon Chair Quinones-Sanchez, Vice-Chair Gym and other members of City Council’s Committee on Education. My name is Dr. Pam Carter, and I am the Dean of Business & Technology at Community College of Philadelphia. Thank you for allowing me to offer testimony on Resolution No. 200395 sponsored by Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore Richardson. Career and Technical Education, or CTE, fills a critically important role at Community College of Philadelphia. CTE prepares students by providing a combination of “core academic skills, employability skills and technical, job-specific skills,” in program areas meeting Philadelphia employer workforce needs. Our work at Community College of Philadelphia involves constant assessment of our credit and non-credit curricula, which includes more than 70 workforce-focused programs, to ensure alignment not only with current employer needs, but also labor market forecasts in Philadelphia. Postsecondary education has been shown to lead to positive economic, health, and labor market outcomes . A primary goal of educational programming at Community College of Philadelphia is to prepare students for good jobs, with family-sustaining wages, leading to successful careers in fields that meet Philadelphia workforce needs. To accomplish this, a pipeline approach has been taken, with emphasis placed on providing equitable access for all Philadelphians, delivering quality programs that reflect current advances in each discipline, facilitating transfer opportunities when appropriate, and interacting with Philadelphia employers to understand their current and future talent needs. As a result, partnering with the School District of Philadelphia has been and continues to be a vitally important aspect of achieving the mission of Community College of Philadelphia. Partnering efforts include, but are not limited to, outreach and recruitment, dual enrollment strategies, program articulations, and participation in advisory bodies for both high school and Community College of Philadelphia educational programming. While productive, there is room for expansion and greater proactive collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia, while concurrently making stronger connections with Philadelphia employers. To ensure preparedness for Post-COVID-19 career opportunities, a holistic ecosystem approach to collaborative problem solving is envisioned. One of the important lessons of the COVID-19 response is that a systematic, collaborative community approach is required to quickly achieve positive, large-scale community outcomes. Community College of Philadelphia looks forward to working with the City, the School District of Philadelphia, our transfer partners, and Philadelphia employers to systematically address the preparedness of Philadelphia citizens for Post-COVID-19 career opportunities. I am open to take any questions that you may have.
APPENDIX K Laura Rigell’s Testimony Good afternoon Chair Gilmore Richardson and members of the committee. My name is Laura Rigell. I am the Solar Manager at the Philadelphia Energy Authority. The School District of Philadelphia set a new “first” for Philly this fall by launching Pennsylvania’s first Career and Technical Education solar program. The new program is the most intensive high school solar program in the nation and is part of the Philadelphia Energy Authority’s Bright Solar Futures initiative. The first class of 10th graders started the program this fall virtually through Frankford High School, and additional classes of 10th graders will be added each year. PEA supported PowerCorpsPHL to establish a new Bright Solar Futures fellowship in the spring of this year to offer a parallel pathway for Opportunity Youth, young adults age 18 to 30 who are un- or under-employed. 11 of the 12 graduates from this new Fellowship were placed into employment in the summer of this year despite COVID. This high placement rate is a testament to the resilience of solar companies’ demand for workers, which has been on the rise since the launch of the Philadelphia Energy Campaign and programs like Solarize Philly and the Philadelphia Solar Rebate. In fact, solar installer was designated as a High Priority Occupation for Philadelphia County in 2017 based on significant employer demand. Entry-level jobs in solar and related clean energy fields do not require a college degree, pay a living wage, and open up a career pathway. Training Philadelphians for jobs in solar creates a real win-win by meeting employer demand for a trained workforce and connecting Philadelphians to well-paying dignified work. We encourage City Council to celebrate and learn from the success of Bright Solar Futures, to support programs that increase the rate of solar adoption, and to connect your constituents to Philadelphia’s robust network of solar training programs. I look forward to answering any questions and am happy to provide more detail about any of these programs if you reach out to me. Thank you.
APPENDIX L Jeramie Miller’s Testimony Good afternoon Councilwoman Richardson and members of the Committee on Education. My name is Jeramie Miller and I am a member of “YO Philly”, the Postsecondary Readiness Office’s student advisory board. Thank you for allowing me to provide written testimony on resolution number 200395. As a senior I’ve had four amazing years filled with various opportunities that provided experiences in their own respective fields. Culinary, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and JROTC. Based on the experiences that I’ve been blessed to have been able to accumulate, paired with my new role in YO Philly, I’ve had a mind to want to try to share some of my opinions with you all today, in hope of aiding you in making things easier for the younger generation of students. Firstly with CTE I’ve only ever taken culinary classes, so I can’t attempt to comment on CTE as a whole, but assuming the classes have a general work, or comprehension amount not taking these courses doesn’t create a loss in education for the students without them. It’s my personal belief that without these classes you get more classes that have a variety of applicable purposes, Science, Math, History etc. With AP courses, students are expected to learn more than those in regular classes, thus the AP credit. I do believe that this holds true, these courses do require a certain amount of discipline to continue wanting to attend, or just finishing the work that typically takes longer to complete. I believe that for at least the AP classes I’ve taken these classes present no need to be changed, as they serve their purpose in preparing us with college-level courses just fine. I believe these learning groups are fine as is. The students being young, would like to have enticement to want to pursue these opportunities. I believe once students get into any of these types of courses, that they’ll be fine. Any student that joins the courses willing to go through them, still has a great time with them without any changes, of course those without the desire to continue will suffer. I’m not saying these classes are perfect just that the major problems I’ve seen have only been due to the timing of my schooling. I believe that after everything is settled and done, including Coronavirus, in person in a classroom everything should be fine.
APPENDIX M Jeron Williams II’s Testimony Good afternoon Councilwoman Richardson and members of the Committee on Education. My name is Jeron Williams II and I am a member of “YO Philly”, the Postsecondary Readiness Office’s student advisory board. Thank you for allowing me to provide written testimony on resolution number 200395. I just transferred to Central from Hill-Freedman World Academy, and the pandemic is throwing my high school experience for a loop. Upside down on its head. COVID-19 has impacted our lives in the most unimaginable ways possible. Not only has this virus confined us to our homes, to wear masks, and to be socially distant, it has also changed the way we learn, work, and collaborate. Has it been easy? No, but the hustle never stops. However, it has gotten hard. I know personally that I work better—way better—in a classroom where I’m easily able to interact with my teachers and peers, and still have some of those “informal” conversations that really enhance my learning experience. Some students have flourished in this online environment, as they are more at home, at home. I, however, could not be more out of it in this situation than I am, and that says a lot about me. But, students across the city, across the country, even across the world, feel the same way as I do. Personally, having a daily agenda or a calendar of some sort is alleviating some of that stress, and also timing myself on certain things. When trying to get the full high school experience, it can be challenging in this environment. Students still want to be in clubs, sports, and other extracurriculars. As a Central student, the positions that I hold and the things that are demanded of me, paired with the fact that I am a “Central” student is definitely hard. YO! Philly has taken me away from some of that, giving me space to reflect on the roles that I have across everything that I do, and allowing me to be part of a team that is collaborative, friendly, and led by an amazing person. And, this work is so important, because now the students have insight into the decisions that are made for students. You can’t create something for a client and the client doesn’t test it. But, it’s also a way to network with other students outside of my own school or group of friends, learn new things, and be part of a change for all students across the School District of Philadelphia. Thank you.
APPENDIX N Kristen Brown’s Testimony Good afternoon Councilwoman Richardson and members of the Committee on Education. My name is Kristen Brown and I am the founding member of “YO Philly”, the Postsecondary Readiness Office’s student advisory board. Thank you for allowing me to provide written testimony on resolution number 200395. How many times have you heard an adult tell a child “you are the future”? I know in my youth that I’ve heard it many times. What I’ve also heard is adults telling us that we don't know what we want or, “I know what's BEST for you”. But times have changed. Years ago when many of today’s adults were going to school, versus me going to school now, many aspects were very different; technology has advanced, we have the advantages of more research, and most importantly our environment has evolved. The things that children of today have experienced are not like anything you may have as a child or even adults of today experience now. Something like sex wasn’t common for teens to have and one’s mental health wasn’t often considered. Parents and teachers often assume that students are okay or that we don’t know what’s going on in the real world. Which is a valid point but truthfully, the roles are reversed. It seems adults don’t tend to take the time to understand our world. We often hear: “they’re not ready yet”, “you don’t know what love is”, or “she’s not ready for that conversation”. They don’t understand us the way we understand each other. My peers and I may not agree upon everything and we may not see everything the same way, but we are living in the same era. We see the same things, we deal with the same things, we have the same things affecting us. That is where YO Philly comes into play. Adults often disregard the input of a child because we are viewed as being "too young" or "just children". Students should be able to seek a feeling of comfortability within YO Philly as we work together. Just as black women came together and put a woman of color in the office of Vice President, I reached out to the district to help give my peers a say in our figurative office. Adults know adults. Children know children. I’ll acknowledge the fact that we don’t know every single thing there is to know about adult life. But often, we don’t have opinions in choices made for us. Yes, we need guidance. Yes, we need support. But our personal wants should be as devised as our needs. My ears in the classroom hear different things then the ears of your principals, staff, and educators. As I work with YO Philly to share my ideas and ideas from my peers with the postsecondary readiness office, I believe we can build stronger connections between staff and students. Many students express a concern for life skills that they should be taught, including financial literacy and self-love. We want to show care to the goals, talents and desires of our youth. We are working together with student-led ideas and insight. We plan to share ideas from this team in order to develop sound programming and resources that prepares students like us for the obstacles that we may encounter in life. YO Philly allows our youth to speak up and have a voice to the people who often don’t have the opportunity to hear from them.
APPENDIX O Ta’Sean McMullin’s Testimony Hello, my name is Ta’Sean and I graduated from the OIC (Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center Workforce Academy) class in July 2020. This class taught me the basic steps of solar, which involved understanding the racking and electrical systems and what it takes to be involved in a solar company. It prepped me to know what to have tool wise and mentally to be productive and ready for a job in the field of solar. Beyond solar it taught me how to be professional and focused in my work. Due to the COVID lockdown we did not get a lot of hands on learning experience. I felt this left me behind on the speed and pace required by a company. The classes did teach me the math and fundamentals behind the final product that prepped me to be ready to install solar on a larger scale. I was able to scale up my class lessons to real world jobs. I am greatly appreciative of the experience and connections it gave me.
Marie Patterson’s Testimony My name is Marie Patterson. I am a proud alumna of Murrell Dobbins CTE HS, parent of a graduate of the Class of 2020, a business owner in the community, and the Chair of the Dobbins School Advisory Committee. I am here to give testimony on behalf of the Dobbins community representing all the aforementioned roles. For the past 5 years, I have had an inside view of what instruction is like for career and technical education students in the School District of Philadelphia. I have witnessed as the criteria for admission was removed in 2017, arts, humanities, and other elective and CTE courses were stripped from students, as well as the most recent scheduling requirement for more math and English interventions have been placed on only some of the CTE schools. As a businesswoman in the City, I certainly understand how and why we lost the opportunity to welcome Amazon to the City of Philadelphia. It’s simple; we do not operate our career and technical education programs as they should be. We lack the ability to demonstrate we are preparing the next generation of employees. In Philadelphia, CTE schools are treated as traditional high schools placing the primary focus on academics. Workforce has indicated that the primary skills needed for future jobs will require more skilled labor. They are looking for individuals who possess the 21st Century, which include: 1. Critical thinking 2. Creativity 3. Collaboration 4. Communication 5. Information literacy 6. Media literacy 7. Technology literacy 8. Flexibility 9. Leadership 10. Initiative 11. Productivity 12. Social skills Nowhere in this list do you see mention of English and math, or a college degree. While I am here speaking for Dobbins, my comments serve to address career and technical education across the School District of Philadelphia. I recommend that if there is to be any consideration for alignment of curricula to support post COVID employment as well as conflict resolution, you offer and assist the School district of Philadelphia with the following: 1. Restore the minimal criteria for admission for CTE. This will ensure that students who enter the programs are committed to preparing for the workforce while also getting the credits needed for college. The criteria prior to its removal was: C average grade, good attendance, and no serious discipline issues. These are all necessary for the workplace and can be built upon as they matriculate through high school. 39
2. Remove the strict block scheduling that only focused on academic remediation and intervention in the 9th and 10th grades. Allow students entering the CTE programs as freshmen and sophomores an opportunity to develop the creativity and innovation that originally led them to apply to career and technical education in the first place. 3. Encourage all businesses in the City to create paid as well as non-paid internships for students in CTE throughout the school year. Philadelphia Youth Network has programs and funding to support this and CTE students should be placed first. This would help create a pipeline of experienced workforce and help to keep students out of trouble. We have seen the impact of not having meaningful activities for youth; too many getting shot. We have had 2-3 at Dobbins this school year. 4. Stop testing 11th and 12th grade students on pointless standardized tests. Students in CTE should be focusing on NOCTI, ASVAB, SAT, ACT, and Accuplacer. These are the assessments that will yield the greatest return for students and their families rather than the tests (Keystone Assessments and STAR) given only to further increase the achievement gap. It is well documented that these standardized tests are racially and culturally biased, yet we still use them to rank and file students and schools. What are we saying to our children if we continue to call them “Below Basic” and “Under Performing”? Lastly, as I close, Pennsylvania Department of Education provides CTE subsidy as early as the 9th grade. I have met with parents, students, and the Dobbins roster chair and administration regarding this matter. There is no reasonable explanation why the School District of Philadelphia does not allow 9th grade students at the CTE schools to begin their CTE training as soon as they start high school. Benefits of this move far outweigh the costs. It is recommended that this is explored to generate additional revenue to school budgets as well as begin to prepare students much earlier for college and career. I thank you for this opportunity to speak! Marie Patterson, Dobbins Alum, Parent of a Graduate, SAC Chair, and Community Business Owner
Office of Katherine Gilmore Richardson Councilmember At-Large | City Hall Room 581 | (215) 686-0454 Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson