Helen Gym is the founder of Parents United for Public Education, an organization advocating for a strong Philadelphia public school system.
What is Parents United?
Parents United for Public Education came about to engage public school parents and charter parents all across the city to stand up around a strong public school system. With all the events that have transpired in the last year or so there’s nothing more important than the quality of our schools. It’s tied to our population, our future and tied to children –getting people engaged and active and passionate about our public schools.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I’m a transplant from the Midwest, came here from college. Stayed here more permanently since the 90s. I’m a former public school teacher in the district. I was the first editor of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. I’m a parent of three children. I helped found a charter school in Chinatown. I’m a daughter of immigrants.
What was life growing up in the Midwest?
My parents did not have that much. Everything I ever got in my life, including sports, art activities and community functions, learning to ride my bike at the park, swimming in public swimming pool came from public spaces. They have had an impact. That belief I carry with me. No matter what background you come from these public goods help all to give each other the quality and access to opportunity that many people would not have otherwise. I appreciate the fact that there was an amazing recreational center where I grew up (in Columbus, Ohio) that was public and free.