Supporters of public education speak before the School Reform Commission February 15, 2018

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Click on the picture above to view all videos of supporters of public education speaking before the SRC meeting of February 15, 2018.

Click on a timestamp in the video above to select a desired speaker.

Note: The SRC placed media on row 2 in the auditorium which allowed only filming speakers from the side and frequent visual interruption from the audience. We have protested these filming conditions to no avail.


These are the transcripts of some of the testimony to the SRC. To view a transcript with their video, you need two browser windows open; one with the video above and one with the transcript page open.

Transcripts are in the order they were given at the meeting.


Vanessa SRC 2-15-18
Click this picture  to view video of Vanessa Baker’s testimony. Go to timestamp 3:30.

Click here to read the transcript of Vanessa’s testimony.


Cheri SRC 2-15-18
Click this picture  to view video of Cheri Micheau’s testimony. Go to timestamp 3:30.

Click here to read the transcript of Cheri testimony.


Diane 1
Click this picture to view video of Diane Payne’s testimony. Go to timestamp 17:48.

Click here to read the transcript of Diane’s testimony.


Karel SRC 2-15-18
Click this picture to view video of Karel Kilimnik’s testimony. Go to timestamp 21:09.

Click here to read the transcript of Karel’s testimony.


Lisa 1
Click this picture to view video of Lisa Haver’s testimony. Go to timestamp 24:55.

Click here to read the transcript of Lisa’s testimony.


 

Debbie 1
Click this picture to view video of Debbie Grill’s testimony. Go to timestamp 28:20

Click here to read the transcript of Debbie’s testimony.


Barbara Dowdall SRC 1-18-18
Click this picture to view video of Barbara Dowdall’s testimony. Go to timestamp 31:16.

Click here to read the transcript of Barbara’s testimony,


Lynda SRC 2-5-18
Click this picture to view video of Lynda Rubin’s testimony. Go to timestamp 33:54.

Click here to read the transcript of Lynda’ testimony.


Tonya SRC 2-15-18
Click this picture to view video of Tonya Bah’s testimony. Go to timestamp 40:25.

Click here to read the transcript of Tonya’s testimony.


Robin SRC 2-15-18
Click this picture to view video of Robin Lowry’s testimony. Go to timestamp 43:59.

Click here to read the transcript of Robin’s testimony.


 

Philadelpia’s Proposed New Charter School Reports: February 22, 2018

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by Lisa Haver
February 14, 2018

On February 22, the  lame-duck School Reform Commission (SRC) will vote to accept or reject applications from seven charter companies: APM Community Charter School, Franklin Towne Charter Middle School, Mastery Charter Elementary, MaST Community Charter School,  Philadelphia Hebrew Charter School, Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Charter School and Eugenio Maria de Hostos Preparatory Charter School.  (Pennsylvania Institute Charter School withdrew its application at the hearing; Qor Charter withdrew its application subsequent to the hearing.)

APPS members have read and analyzed the applications, attended the hearings, researched the charter company and its officers, and examined the records of any existing schools the company operates in the district.

Those who scratch the surface of this process begin to realize the depth and breadth of the questions surrounding the funneling of tax dollars into institutions that are not “public” in the sense of serving the common good.  Dig further to discover highly paid top administration officials, cozy and complicated financial dealings, far from transparent or open organizational practices, and academics that are rarely superior to public schools.

In defense of a truly public education system that serves the common good as a cornerstone of democracy, APPS continues to delve into the facts and history of charters. Our tax dollars should be spent to improve the quality of education for all of our students and should not be spent on a wasteful, corrupt, two-tiered system made possible by those who benefit from the provisions in what PA Auditor General Anthony De Pasquale has called “the worst charter school law in the country”.

Following are the reports by APPS members along with written testimony submitted to the SRC.

APM Community Charter School

Aspira Inc: Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Charter School

Aspira Inc: Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School

Franklin Towne Middle Charter School

Philadelphia Hebrew Charter School

Mastery Charter Elementary School

MaST III Charter School

 

The School District of Philadelphia New Charter Applications

 

Eyes on the SRC: February 15, 2018

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by Karel Kilimnik
February 11, 2018

As we count down the final days of the SRC, we continue to examine the policies implemented by the Broad Academy-trained Superintendent, Dr Hite. Eli Broad is one of many uber-wealthy “philanthropists” pushing their corporate education agenda public school systems across the country, including ours.  Broad is a firm believer in free-market policies  and in the role of competition in education. Experience and degrees in education are secondary. Self-proclaimed innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit will suffice.

Two themes emerge in this edition of Eyes on the SRC. First, the determination of both the District and the SRC to outsourcing services traditionally performed by District staff.  Second,  the increasing use of data to inflict real damage on district schools at the same time the District fails to provide data justifying its decisions to overhaul certain neighborhood schools.  Where is the data to the Transformation Schools, Turnaround Network Schools, Redesign Schools, Priority Schools—all sold by the Hite administration as that year’s remedy for struggling schools? Magic Data is about as valuable as Magic Money. There is an Education Industrial Complex at work dipping into education funds and enriching edu-vendors at the expense of our children.  Some examples from this month include Resolutions A-2 and Resolution A-11, which will enrich the owners and stockholders of The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and Jounce Partners, respectively, with little expectation that it will provide a better learning experience for students.

While education advocates fight for more funding in Harrisburg, the SRC continues to put precious dollars into the pockets of vendors, consultants and faux education groups like TNTP.  Resolutions A-12, B-2, and A-3 demonstrate the growing influence of private funders including the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) and the William Penn Foundation, whose policies and pet projects are simply rubber-stamped by the SRC without public deliberation.

Dr Hite often speaks about what teachers should be doing to address student trauma, even as his policies inflict more turmoil on entire school communities. His decision on this year’s cohort of Priority Schools forces both Steel Elementary School in Nicetown and Rhoads Elementary School in West Philadelphia into the District’s Turnaround Network. Both principals and teachers will be compelled to re-apply for their positions. “Up to” 80% of teachers can be retained—that means 20% must leave, and that most of the faculty can be forced out before next school year.  How does all this turmoil affect students already affected by trauma? It simply escalates their feelings of instability and loss of control. Relationships developed with teachers and principals over the years are tossed aside as new teachers are brought in. Perhaps Dr. Hite sees fit to introduce one of ten partner vendors already approved by the SRC for professional development. What our students need is stability, nurturing of relationship—not blended learning that sits children in front of computer screens instead of interacting with a teacher. These resolutions (A-7, B-12) send an astronomical $19 million into the coffers of  “various vendors” and Pearson Incorporated, which has profited greatly from the enforced yearly testing mandated by No Child Left Behind.

At this meeting, the SRC will consider resolutions on proposed contracts to various vendors totaling over $114 million.

What If…?

This question takes on a new significance this month: if the SRC votes to approve all resolutions, which it does over 99% of the time, it will send more than $114 million to outside companies including:  TNTP (A-2); Kelly Services, for outsourcing of substitute services (A-4 & 5); Pearson Inc., for “instructional management” (A-7); CLI (B-9)  and other companies for more outsourcing of  Professional Development  (B-10 and B-11); several companies for online instruction/blended learning (B-12). For only $24 million, the district could bring back one Certified School Librarian for every school in the district.

Next SRC meeting:  Thursday, February 15 at 4:30 PM in the auditorium at 440 No. Broad Street.  Call 215-400-4180 by 3:30 on February 14th to sign up to speak.

Click here to see selected SRC Resolutions and the APPS analysis.

Ears on the SRC: January 18, 2018

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by Diane Payne
February 3, 2018

Ringing in 2018

Only four commissioners were present at this meeting: Chair Joyce Wilkerson and Commissioners Estelle Richman, Christopher McGinley and Farah Jimenez.  Absent again, without explanation or apology, was Commissioner Bill Green.  It has become increasingly clear that Commissioner Green does not take his responsibility to the public seriously.  This is now the sixth time he has been absent since April 2017.  He has come in at the tail end of meetings only to vote; he has left meetings early to call in and vote.

Ten APPS members testified on behalf of public education.  [To see their testimony and the testimony of other defenders of public education, please go to the APPS website.]

Remarks and Presentations

Superintendent William Hite, in his official remarks, stated that the district has greater stability in job placement.  However, the testimony of teacher Robin Lowry painted a different picture for her school.  [To see and view Robin’s testimony about the vacancies at Edison H.S., go to the SRC testimony video and click on the 22:45 minute time stamp.]

The one staff presentation concerned changes in the district’s food program.  It is heartening to hear that the district is trying different means of increasing participation in the food program, but the issue of the quality of the food remains unaddressed.  Children still receive unappetizing pre-packaged items, not the meals many of us remember that were prepared in school kitchens.

Commissioner McGinley, chair of the SRC’s Policy Committee, noted that Resolution SRC-1 was a policy resolution that will be voted on at this meeting and that SRC-2 is on the agenda for public review and comment only.  SRC-2 will be considered at the February SRC Action Meeting.  The next policy meeting will be [was]at 440 N. Broad Street at 10:00 a.m. on February 1, 2018.  Dr. McGinley also noted that the discussion of the charter school policy will continue at that meeting.

Sunshine Act Violation

The SRC continues to thumb its nose at the Sunshine Act and the Commonwealth Court Settlement that resulted from an APPS lawsuit over SRC violations of that law.  Part of that court-ordered settlement stipulated that the SRC would post resolutions two weeks prior to all Action Meetings. Almost every month, however, the SRC adds resolutions in the week before the meeting.  Charter school resolutions are posted as “quasi-judicial” and lack any text; thus, the public has no information available to them when the SRC votes on them.  Subsequent to the meeting (and their vote), they fill in the text of the resolution–which is not what the SRC voted on.  That is a falsification of the public record, and it is a violation of the Sunshine Act and of the settlement.  We have repeatedly called on Chair Wilkerson and the legal department (now headed by Lynn Rauch) to address these violations. The SRC is a public body. Its members should respect the rule of law.

Charter Sham Continues–on Taxpayers’ Dime

Click here to read the rest of the post.