Will Sylianteng's Statement In Support of Ambler's Mattison Ave. Elementary School

Will Sylianteng voices support for keeping Ambler's Mattison Ave. Elementary School open.

Today, Will Sylianteng sent the following email to the Wissahickon School Board urging them to keep Mattison Ave. Elementary School open.


To the Wissahickon School Board:

     I am the Democratic candidate for the PA State House for the 151st District, which includes the Borough of Ambler, PA.  I write to you to urge you to vote against closing Mattison Ave. Elementary School.

     Mattison Ave. Elementary has a racial minority population of over 40%, many of these youngsters come from homes where Spanish - and not English - is the primary language.  Furthermore, many of the students come from poorer homes and statistics show many begin their time at Mattison with lower baseline educations than their peers at your other elementary schools. 

     In spite of coming from underprivileged backgrounds, in many cases the students of Mattison Ave. Elementary School thrive.  In fact, these students not only thrive, but they outshine their peers enrolled at your other elementary schools, when you compare the rate of their academic growth.

     This is not a coincidence.

     The small school, the role the concerned and active parents play in the school, and the way the community has rallied around Mattison Elementary School cannot be dismissed, and it cannot be quantified by the generic studies the district is relying on in making its recommendation to close Mattison Ave.

     Until a full study can be commissioned to determine the effects of closing Mattison Ave. Elementary on the student population actually enrolled in Mattison (the study must take into account more than just test scores, it must be sensitive to both the racial and socio-economic factors at play in this unique school), you cannot close the school.

     You have something special going on at Mattison Ave. Elementary.  You should be celebrating that success rather than seeking to close it down.



                                   Will Sylianteng

                                   Democratic Candidate for the PA State House (151)

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HGConservative October 03, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Curmudgeon, you're way off base. It's not about segregation, it's about a keeping a community school open. If anything, think of this as a school choice issue. This is a school the community wants and a school where students are thriving. It is incorrect to say that the rate of achievement at Mattison is greater simply because they start out much lower. The second greatest % improvement is Stony Brook, which has the highest starting point. Mattison is just doing a great job of educating. Setting aside the % increase, Mattison students also show the highest increase in raw score in their RIT scores in most categories/grade levels from grades 1-3 (when compared to the other elementary schools in the district). The bottom line is that the board puts the "achievement gap" out as a reason to close the school, but Mattison is in fact doing a great job of working to close the achievement gap. It isn't closed completely, but I think that's an unreasonably high bar. Most students at Mattison are able to walk to school. More than a few families have 0 cars or 1 car, which would limit the ability of the parents to be involved in the school if it were not within walking distance.
Curmudgeon October 03, 2012 at 11:08 AM
@HG: I did not say the school should be closed, in fact you reasons are much more reasonable than the minority/poor reasons given previously. You are obviously a better advocate than the politician. Perhaps he should have used you as a spokesman. I think I am tired of the race and class issues always brought up. Sometimes there are just good reasons to do something.
HGConservative October 03, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I don't think I'll be a spokesman for a Democrat any time soon, but he's right on this issue. His opponent should issue a similar statement.
Pat Strus October 04, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Todd Stephens has been involved from the start. Met with the residents and attended their meeting at the Borough. He has also met with Judy Clark, the school superintendent. And will be attending the meeting on the 8th.
andthatsthetruth October 04, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I resent the fact that this is being considered a low income population school. There are people that live in Ambler because they like it and some homes in Ambler are worth over $400K. Population of Mattison School is a mixture of all races, religious and creeds. Stop beating this school down! I started my child in Mattison Avenue School, kindergarten. What an amazing year! The teachers are sensitive, perceptive, and very tuned in to all that is going on with each individual child. Teaching math and reading. They had spelling tests. Moving on to another school district facility, the spelling and math went to the way side. I am getting a sense that if these "minority people" didn't/ wouldn't exist this still wouldn't be an issue? Not hardly. In reading the report of things that need to be fixed, I remember years ago that they had the same argument with the school district to close Ambler Junior High and propose the Middle School. They left all the maintenance go for over a year and then assessed what need to be done and said it was too extensive to fix. I think that the Board members are looking out for their own notoriety and if they build new bldgs, their names will get placed on a brass plaque and that is the sole prize of taxpayers financial woes. Why don't these new school buildings just indicate - Built by Taxpayers. End of story.


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