Parents United in the news

Listen to us on the Nick Taliaferro Show, WURD 900 a.m. on occasional weekdays.

Read Helen Gym’s blog at the Public School Notebook.


(Photo: Colin Lenton for Philadelphia Magazine)
(Photo: Colin Lenton for Philadelphia Magazine)

Pennsylvania Gazette highlights Penn alumni making a difference in the Philadelphia schools and features Helen Gym as “Philadelphia’s own version of Diane Ravitch.” March 2014

Philadelphia Magazine profiles Helen Gym in its January 2014 issue: “Relentless, whip-smart, meticulously prepared and utterly fearless, Gym—a private citizen who works without the heft of any meaningful institutional support—has managed to build herself one of the city’s largest bully pulpits.”

Diane Ravitch calls Helen Gym, “Philadelphia’s parent hero” saying:  “If every city had a Helen Gym, this nation would get turned around. And soon.” Jan. 4, 2014

The New York Times puts Philadelphia’s Doomsday scenario on its front page and featured Parents United’s Leslie Tyler, Tomika Anglin and Helen Gym. Aug. 15, 2013

  • Related: New York Times listed Helen Gym as its Quote of the Day:“The concept is just jaw-dropping. Nobody is talking about what it takes to get a child educated. It’s just about what the lowest number is needed to get the bare minimum. That’s what we’re talking about here: the deliberate starvation of one of the nation’s biggest school districts.”

Diane Ravitch calls Rebecca Poyourow “more knowledgeable” than Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates and education reformers. But hey, we already knew that! 8/19/2012


(Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer, Mar. 24, 2013)

Helen Gym’s post on the White House Champions of Change blog: “The ‘public good’ is not a dirty word: Rebuilding our collective responsibility.” I’ve learned that our public spaces, our communities and our schools are not just places that exist in stasis. We have to learn to fight to preserve these spaces, to uplift them and to pass down the lessons of preservation and community to our children and our fellow neighbors.

Robin Roberts is cited in this Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed in support of the Opt Out Philly movement: “But if enough parents follow Roberts’ example, maybe Gov. Corbett and the legislature will make it a higher priority to increase funding not just for Philadelphia, but for schools across the state.” Mar. 26, 2014

Helen Gym is a featured commentator for the PDK Gallup Poll on public attitudes toward public schools, Aug. 2013

Mayor Nutter recently said labels like public/private/charter shouldn’t matter. Helen Gym explains why they do, 8/27/12.

Helen Gym writes for CNN: “Reformers: Please listen to what parents want for schools, “ June 8, 2011



Philadelphia Public School Notebook, The Path Forward: Q&A with Helen Gym of Parents United,” Aug. 5, 2014.

“But there’s also a real need to humanize the dialogue around how we talk about poverty, cities and schools. The language we’re using these days is punishing and cruel. Parents are uniquely poised to ensure the mentality around our children and our schools must come through a framework of human dignity, equity, justice and love for our children and those who care for them.”

Listen to Robin Roberts on “Radio Times” on opting out 4/9/2014

NBC10 Philadelphia asks Helen Gym: 10 Questions on Public Education, Aug. 27, 2013

“Radio Times” features parent Helen Gym debating equity and charters with the head of a free market think tank. Listen here.  10/8/2012

“The Rick Smith Show” features Rebecca Poyourow talking about why public schools matter for her and her children, May 24, 2012.



Parents United partnered with Media Mobilizing Project to produce a video series with PFT president Jerry Jordan, “Revival from the Roots.” Part I interviews parents, students and staff throughout West Philadelphia. “We need to see our schools as places of hope and possibility,” says Helen Gym.

Part 2 in our “Revival from the Roots” series  focuses on Steel Elementary school in the midst of an attempted charter takeover.


Gerald Wright is featured in this Real News Network segment on the Doomsday budget


Real News Network, “Hundreds rally to fight for Philadelphia public schools,” June 24, 2012.


Real News Network, “Dozens of Philadelphia Schools on Chopping Block,” May 18, 2012.


P.O.W.E.R. education town hall, April 29, 2012

On the Issues

Cartoon: Signe Wilkinson, May 2012
Cartoon: Signe Wilkinson, May 2012

SRC Chairman faces off against Parents United founder Helen Gym in a lengthy discussion about priorities, civic engagement, parent voice, and integrity. Bill Green and Helen Gym try to find common ground (or not) on education, Phildelphia Magazine, Nov. 2011.

Parents United’s Robin Roberts, JoAnn Rogan and founder Alison McDowell (now with APPS-Philly) headline this front page story on high stakes testing opt out in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mar. 25, 2014.

The trade publication Non-Profit Quarterly references concerns raised from Parents United’s lobbying complaint in its article on the new head of the William Penn Foundation, Feb. 12, 2014:

  • “The change from Nowak to Degnan isn’t simply a change from pugnacious and controversial to buttoned-down and managerial. The importance is going to be measured in terms of how much the foundation chooses to engage in top-down though behind-the-scenes social engineering around its grantmaking priorities, specifically about public education in Philadelphia, versus opting to respond to the communities that erupted against the foundation’s 2011 and 2012 engagement in remaking public education in the city.”

Newsworks highlights the organizing work of AS Jenks parents as they rally against leveling – and save a teacher, Oct. 9, 2013.

Valerie Strauss from the popular Washington Post blog “The Answer Sheet” interviews Helen Gym on the Philly schools’ crisis, Aug. 23, 2013. Perfect Storm threatens Philadelphia public schools, Answer Sheet, Aug.  23, 2013

  • “We’ve burned through countless dollars chasing after the obsessions and frivolities of this so called “education reform” movement – expensive consultancies, high stakes testing, new standards and curricula, Renaissance schools. We’ve become so obsessed with the structure and management of education that we’ve completely forgotten about the substance and practice of it.” – Helen Gym

Rebecca Poyourow on the “Rick Smith Show” talking about the start of school and the District’s doomsday budget. Listen here. Aug. 8, 2013.

NBC National interviewed Sabra Townsend on the impact of school closings on special needs students, April 11, 2013.

Poyourow on the “Rick Smith Show” talking about what Corbett’s budget proposal means for Philly schools, Feb. 6, 2013.

Parents United’s complaint to Ethics Board is mentioned in Public School Notebook: Nowak out at William Penn Foundation.

Helen Gym is cited in this Daily News story on the abrupt resignation of outspoken William Penn Foundation president Jeremy Nowak: 11/29/2012.

GAMP parents host a concert and rally to save yellow school buses for students. 11/8/2012

Gym reviews the new Philadelphia Schools Partnership website “Great Philly Schools” and calls it a crude measure of school quality by an organization that promotes itself an arbiter of school quality. 11/2/2012

GAMP parents launch a campaign to preserve bus service for middle schoolers, 10/18/2012

Ch. 6 feature Parents United founder Cecelia Thompson on the impact of school closures on low-income schools, 9/25/2012

Philadelphia Daily News cites Helen Gym raising concerns about high stakes testing on cheating and declining test scores, 9/23/12

Parent United’s Rebecca Poyourow highlights charter schools’ barriers to entry in a Notebook investigation, 9/14/2012

Parents United founder Gerald Wright asks questions about Boston Consulting Group’s school “plan,” 8/4/2012

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