Op-ed: Gun issues a problem all over, including Philadelphia

By Jennifer Luong, Angelina Pan and James Lee

Kevin J. Boyle is the representative for the 172nd Legislative District, representing Rockledge, Bustleton, Fox Chase and Rhawnhurst.

Boyle is approaching his fifth term in office, and we thank him for his work and service to our community.

As students, we are incredibly alarmed at the increasing rate of mass shootings in the country. More than 300 mass shootings occurred in the United States in 2018. In Philadelphia, the number of shooting victims increased last year. Boyle has introduced legislation to limit the amount of ammunition in firearm magazine clips sold to the public. Large-capacity ammunition firearms massively outperform the needs of civilians hunting for sport, and Boyle’s recognition of this is received gladly.

The School District of Philadelphia is known to have its share of problems, and as students of the district, we know those problems well. We all began at Fox Chase Elementary School and have been a part of the Philadelphia public school system since. We recognize that school options must be improved, but unlike Boyle, we do not think that the answer is in the expansion of charter schools. Public asset privatization and corporate interests should not dictate our education. Community development begins with education, so shouldn’t education be dictated by the public? Often, charter schools are not held to the same accountability as traditional public schools, leaving the possibility for corruption and mismanagement.

For the past 13 years, we have seen the number of independently operated schools rapidly increase. According to the National Education Policy Center, on average, charter schools do not outperform traditional public schools. Donna Cooper, executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, states, “Most of our charters that are performing in Philadelphia — they are struggling as much as Philly schools, or doing worse.” Although there are a few successful charter schools in Philadelphia, many fall behind in creating the quality education that Philadelphians need. The answer for better schools for our kids is to remedy our public school system, not to give the reins to corporate interests.

As lifelong residents of the neighborhood of Fox Chase, we believe that an influx of jobs and capital would be incredibly beneficial to Fox Chase. A key opportunity for economic development in our community is in an expansion of the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Currently, the cancer center has expanded, but into East Norriton. We believe expanding Fox Chase Cancer Center in Fox Chase would do a lot for the community and make it more attractive for potential employees and residents, and our leaders must come together to make that happen, through community group meetings.

In order for a community to truly develop for the greater good, the residents must be engaged and expressive. We are grateful for this opportunity to present our opinions and ideas to improve our district, and we thank Boyle for his continued work to advance the place we call home. ••

Jennifer, Angelina and James are seniors at Julia R. Masterman High School. In their social sciences class, they have been assigned a project to write an op-ed on their local state representative.