Philly Public Schools Day 4: A Real Look Inside E.W. Rhodes
Note: This was received anonymously from a concerned gentleman who I’m to assume is some sort of teacher within the school. We need more men to stand up and take a stand like this.
Update: I have spoken with him again since this letter was distributed to the media, the principal has posted it in the break room at Rhodes and has begun using intimidation tactics to discover who the author of this letter. The precise word he used was a “manhunt”.The irony in this is that you would think that she would focus her energy on improvements as opposed to something as unimportant as who has sight amongst the blind.
Philadelphia Public Schools… Day 4. Tell whoever will listen.
Teachers and staff members have been experiencing the toughest time of their careers since Monday the 9th. We’re at war right now. We’re fighting for our students, their safety, and ourselves against budget cuts and administrators.
Someone please just listen to us.
E.W. Rhodes in North Philadelphia was converted to a K-8 from a middle school (7th and 8th). We have received students from multiple schools—Whittier, Pratt, Pierce, Hill, and Wright. We are in one of the highest needs communities, with parents and students needing as much support and assistance we can offer at our school. We are failing them and being set up to fail by our admin.
Our current Principal is Andrea Coleman Hill, who started Monday August 5th and is a former Assistant Superintendent from 440. She was laid off from this position on the 2nd and given our building one hour later, apparently still at her assistant superintendent salary.
We did not have a secretary until registration opened in August who did a poor job registering students and left many enrollment packets incomplete. There are dozens of students who are not on roll or belong at other schools.
We cannot find their records.
Our permanent secretary has been getting assistance from the former Principal of Whittier who retired at the end of August, but this has been problematic too.
She has been advocating for her former staff, which Principal Coleman-Hill has taken to and speaks of very highly.
The former Rhodes staff however, has gotten a very unprofessional and unwelcoming introduction from Principal Coleman-Hill. She continuously states disparaging remarks and comments about the former Principal of Rhodes, she has stated that the school was terrible, a “hot mess,” and that no one knew what they were doing. There is a considerable number of these staff members still here and are constantly subjected to these barrage of personal and professional attacks daily.
Coincidently, the former Whittier teachers (the current 6th gr. teachers) have smaller classes (23-25 students) and the former/returning Rhodes teachers (7th and 8th) have larger classes from 31-35 students (though we have enough teachers and classrooms and desks to make smaller classrooms in these grades). Ms. Sago created the class lists.
Principal Coleman-Hill told the middle school (6th-8th grades) that she did not micromanage and that they needed to create their own master schedule.
On September 5th and 6th, official district holidays, teachers were voluntarily in Rhodes trying to get ready for the first day, working on their classrooms because they’d only had 2.5 hours to do so during the PD days, and working to create a master schedule for the middle school staff… Something that administration should have and could have done. Adding insult to injury, the Principal and Assistant Principal were enjoying their holidays at home. It was a great morale boost to be in the trenches at Rhodes with not leadership with us.
We had one person from the District on Monday, 2 on Tuesday, 1 again on Wednesday and none today “helping.” They didn’t have a clue what they were doing.
We have a breakfast program that starts at 8am, but students get to school as early at 7:45am. The doors are unlocked and the only personnel in that area has been our non-district Diplomas Now team that early because we teachers are busying prepping for the day. The noontime aide doesn’t arrive until 8am and so many students arrive before then!
Students wander in and out, parents wander in and out, and only these people are around to help out. Today we had some parent volunteers… Did we check their background checks?!
All K-8 kids eat in one cafeteria in the morning. There is no direction, no one knows what’s going on, teachers don’t assist, only the Diplomas Now team and one noontime aide. The Principal showed up at the end of Breakfast today after complaints since Monday.
Students don’t even know who she is. They think our Diplomas Now person is the Assistant Principal.
We have 6th, 7th, and 8th grades eating lunch at the same time spread across 3 different lunchrooms and only one District staff person in each cafeteria.
Dr. Cartwright, our AP, tries to go between the three but she’s one person. Diplomas Now and City Year help during the morning and afternoon.
Our Principal has been nowhere to be found during lunch all week except today after our Assistant Superintendent Ben Wright popped up.
Ben Wright is disrespectful, unhelpful, and needs to never step in Rhodes again.
He publically berated us middle school teachers and the Diplomas Now people for not helping out during lunch. Principal Coleman-Hill agreed with his scolding.
Diplomas Now has been helping out at breakfast, lunch, dismissal, in the office, bathroom monitoring, calling home, waiting for students to be picked up, playing Nurse, and any other task we’ve asked of them and that you can think of even when myself has REFUSED.
But they’re not District employees.
Lunch was actually calmer today than it’s been any other day this week even when the people from the district tried to help.
Ben Wright was in the lunchroom OBSERVING, not directing, correcting and helping students.
He publically stated he did not care that teachers were on their lunch period because they should have helped in lunch because it was unruly and a liability.
My expired contract that is apparently still good, guarantees me a lunch period and a prep. You can take the prep, but you can’t take my lunch. Most times, especially if I cover classes, it’s my only break in the whole day.
So, there’s been some threat of us getting a write-up because we didn’t help during lunch… No other teachers have been asked or demanded to help during the lunches.
All week it’s been 150+ students squeezed into a lunch space for 45 minutes with one noontime aide. All week it’s been out of control. All week it’s been a few dedicated people going above and beyond their call to make sure our students are safe. All week Principal Coleman-Hill HASN’T been stepping up.
You demand on our contractually given lunch, we should have skipped it because the lunchroom is chaotic? But there was nothing out of the ORDINARY in the lunchroom today
It’s been chaotic since Monday and no one, including the principal, cared to come help.
Thursday was the first day Principal Coleman-Hill walked the building.
Don’t observe. Hop in the trenches with us.
Our grounds surrounding the building are so torn up and dangerous that no children are getting recess. They’re all being confined to our understaffed lunchrooms for 45 minutes with no exercise or games.
Our curriculum was lost at Bok during the transition and teachers in the lower schools have nothing to teach from or with.
We’ve had 3 fights. One student thrown into a trashcan. One kid was beat badly just switching between classes—going literally 3 doors down.
We have a school police officer that sits at the front door, doesn’t make anyone sign in or carry a visitor tag. She just sits there. She doesn’t even monitor the hallways.
There is no staff handbook, no student handbook, NO SCHOOL RULES. Literally, nowhere is it written what students can or cannot do, what is allowed and not allowed. Our behavior plan is Principal Coleman Hill to students over the loudspeaker: “You are in charge of your behavior, make the right decisions.”
We have no rules but we’re suspending students… What about the district’s code of conduct?
We have had 3 teachers out daily. No subs are picking up and teachers are not being made to cover these classes. Literally some of us have 4 preps a day but she makes our instructional coaches cover the classes.
Teachers don’t have rosters or roll books so we have no clue who should be in our classes and who shouldn’t.
We don’t have a staff list or phone number list; I can’t even call the office for help because I don’t know the number or they don’t pick up.
We have an overage student in our building that Principal Coleman Hill will not let go to class. She has sat in the office ALL day, everyday this week.
No bathrooms are unlocked, there is no one around to open them.
No counselor—she rotates once a week and has 6 other schools.
The Nurse is here only a few days a week officially, though she stops in everyday to give students insulin, but refuses to speak with parents. One Kindergarten parent wanted to tell her about her daughter’s really bad seizures today. Her response: “I’m not here” and walked away.
Students have already gotten hurt. More students are bound to get hurt. We are a ticking time bomb at Rhodes. The staff is being embarrassed, harassed, unsupported, and disrespected by both Coleman Hill, Ben Wright, and of course the city and state.
Who will fight for us while we fight for our students?
— The Rhodes Truth
“POWER CONCEDES NOTHING WITHOUT A DEMAND. IT NEVER HAS AND NEVER WILL”- Frederick Douglass