Welcome to William D. Kelley School!

Dear W.D. Kelley Community:

As the leader of W. D. Kelley, I take the education of our Kelley scholars, relationships with parents, and partnerships with the community extremely serious. When anyone seeks to distort or malign our school community with untruths, I stand firm and I fight for the rights of our community.

On Friday, February 12, 2021, an article written by Christopher F. Rufo was written in the City Journal investigating the School District of Philadelphia, https://www.city-journal.org/philadelphia-fifth-graders-forced-to-celebrate-black-communism.

Mr. Rufo wrote several inaccuracies shared with him by an ‘anonymous’ individual, such as:

“a fifth-grade teacher at the inner-city William D. Kelley School designed a social studies curriculum to celebrate Davis, praising the “black communist” for her fight against “injustice and inequality.” As part of the lesson, the teacher asked students to “describe Davis’ early life,” reflect on her vision of social change, and “define communist”—presumably in favorable terms. At the conclusion of the unit, the teacher led the ten- and eleven-year-old students into the school auditorium to “simulate” a Black Power rally to “free Angela Davis” from prison, where she had once been held while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder.”

The teacher was selected to participate in the TIPS program as a part of the partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania to create a responsible social studies curriculum for 5th-8th graders, https://theteachersinstitute.org/curriculum_unit/african-american-hair-freedom-and-civil-rights-using-film-media-and-african-american-hair-styles-to-analyze-civil-rights/ Her published curriculum focused on the usage of hair as a means for political activism in historic Black events. There was never a focus on Black Communism, only the background of Davis’s upbringing in Birmingham, Alabama that shaped her position. The mural at Kelley was created by City Year to replace the former mural of Dr. King, President Obama, and Nelson Mandela that was in need of major repair. The pictures were of a Black History assembly in which all classes performed.

I am saddened that a publication would target the Kelley community in an attempt to police the truth of American History and refuse to give credence to the systemic issues that permeate the continued oppression of Black communities. American history has to be presented to our students, authentically, not for the comfort of those who choose to deny inalienable rights for all. The publisher, nor the author, spoke to central office, parents, the teacher, or me.

I will NOT tolerate the disrespect of our school community and inaccuracies of facts to further Mr. Rufo’s agenda. As the leader of W.D. Kelley, I will not shrink under Mr. Rufo or mince words. Presently, Monica Lewis, our Deputy Chief of Communications and our Office of General Counsel are handling this situation.

In service to the Kelley community,

Crystal M. Edwards,