Update (4/28/2015)

Helen Gym reiterated her support for the students and communities opposing the planned closure of Kensington Urban Education Academy. She decried the School Reform Commission for routinely violating the school closure process and timeline it had established.

“The SRC sets up processes that it then proceeds to ignore. It has never followed its own rules on school closure. The process was designed for full participation from the public and to give enough time for the District to consider impact and consequences of hasty decisions. It’s why communities cannot trust the outcome or the intent of this proposed closure.”

Gym said this was the second consecutive year the District has targeted vulnerable school communities mid-year for sudden closure. Last year, Helen Gym helped organize parents and communities at Steel Elementary and Luis Munoz-Marin, two schools which successfully fought off a targeted closure.

Gym noted that communities had worked for years to establish the Kensington small school complex approach.

“We know from practice that schools are sustained and supported by communities. Kensington Urban was created and built under Governor Tom Corbett, one of the worst anti-education governors this state has seen. Kensington Urban is not a failing school. It has been failed by state and city leaders who are not supporting our schools to basic standards of sufficiency. We need to re-invest in our schools and give truly innovative efforts the responsible leadership and supports they need to succeed.”



Today, Helen Gym, mother of three children in the Philadelphia Public Schools and candidate for City Council At-Large, joined students from Youth United for Change to speak out against the planned closure of Kensington Urban Education Academy.

“I am proud to stand with these remarkable students today speaking out to keep their schools open. These neighborhoods deserve quality community schools, as do all neighborhoods in Philadelphia. It’s wrong for the SRC to fail to provide adequate resources to our city’s schools, and then create a narrative that places blame on parents and teachers. I am sick and tired of hearing our schools be described as failing–they are being failed. To make matters worse, the SRC’s vote to speed up the process to close these schools is a blatant attempt to avoid public scrutiny and ignore the voices of parents, teachers, and member of the Kensington community.”


Helen Gym is a former teacher, mother of three children in Philadelphia’s public schools, and a nationally recognized community activist. Helen co-founded Parents United for Public Education and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. In 2007, Helen was honored as the Citizen of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and in 2014 she was honored by President Obama as a Cesar E. Chavez Champion of Change.