On March 7, 2013, twenty-three Philadelphia public schools closed their doors after a vote by the School Reform Commission. Philadelphia’s public school enrollment had declined 23 percent over the past decade due in large part to the growth of charter schools whose performance remains relatively the same as public schools. With a projected budget shortfall of $1.4 billion over the next five years if major restructuring did not occur, the schools’ doors, many of which serve the poorest communities in the city, were shuttered.

One year later, an emergency school reform commission was established. With a frank acceptance that neither privatization of the education system through charter school outsourcing was the appropriate answer nor the maintaining of the antiquated system of top down management and standardization, a series of proposals were drafted which highlighted the need for community control, local participation and an education based on the needs and backgrounds of each school.