In a moving sea of educators, one seems to stand out.
“Our kids face challenges on a day-to-day basis that not many other kids have to face,” said Clovis Gallon, a special education teacher, basketball coach, and graduate of York City schools. “I hear the horror stories every day.”
Gallon’s three children also attend York schools.
“They are going to run the educational system like a business, and education is different than business,” he said.
Gallon is referring to the private charter schools vying to take ownership of the district.
In August, seven companies gave their pitches to the city. The pool of choices has been narrowed down to two; Mosecia Education, Incorporated and Charter Schools USA.
Both represent a move that could make York the first city in Pennsylvania without any public schools.
Fear of such an experiment prompted dozens of public school supporters to rally in front of the York City School District building before Wednesday’s board meeting.
“Right now, we have had shootings every other day,” NAACP representative Sandra Thompson said.
Thompson believes the charter companies have good ideas for struggling students, but that those ideas should only be used to inspire existing public classrooms.
“There’s no reason the York City public schools can’t do that,” she said of one company’s idea to open a more defined conversation between administrators and students about issues such as violence and hunger.
Inside the meeting, a petition with over 3,000 names was presented to board president Margie Orr.
“We needed this. We didn’t get this at the last meetings,” she said of this week’s participation.
At the end of the meeting, Orr concluded that the same group that protects those who protested may cause them to lose their jobs.
If the teachers union cannot come to an agreement with the board, charter schools may be inevitable.
“That’s a big part of our decision moving forward: how are they going to do anything differently for our kids,” Orr said.
She adds that the final decision will be made alongside the district’s state-appointed receiver.
Orr said there is no definitive deadline for a ruling, but it will likely be made before December.