Democracy Dies in Darkness

Board of Education Action Meeting:  May 25, 2023

 by Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin

The board’s speaker suppression policies are now doing double duty: not just to keep members of the community from speaking but to keep them out of the room altogether. A guard at the door to the auditorium told Lynda Rubin she could go in because she was on the speaker list but barred Lisa Haver because she wasn’t.  Haver had tried to sign up but was told by the board that she would not be one of the 30 chosen speakers. She told the guard he could arrest her but that she was going in. Last month some APPS members were detained downstairs because they were not on the list.  

We wrote to the board after the April incident, pointing out that they had only set up 82 chairs in an auditorium that seats 240 people. Thus, the same people who were denied the right to speak now no longer have the right to be present. Did the board not want APPS to witness its voting to spend over $500 million in taxpayer money on 78 official items?  Or voting on a charter application that would cost the district hundreds of millions over the next five years?   A governmental body not accountable to the public can become tyrannical and dictatorial. We need an elected school board.

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Cherelle Parker can restore hope for Philadelphians with real educational reforms | Opinion

The following commentary was written by APPS co-founder Lisa Haver, and published in  Billy Penn on May 25, 2023

Students at McCall School in Center City in 2022. (Nathan Morris for Billy Penn)

What does Cherelle Parker’s nomination for mayor, and likely election in November, mean for the future of public education in Philadelphia? At this point, it’s hard to say.  

During the many quick-fire forums and debates leading up to the primary,  Parker’s responses on public school questions were similar to other candidates, with promises to fill the Board of Education with people who share her vision. 

As the details of her vision come into focus between now and the general election, Parker should make clear her commitment to hearing from the public — in particular, district stakeholders. 

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Board Bars Public from Attending and Testifying, Then Hires Communications Consultants

Board of Education Action and Budget Meetings:   April 20, 2023

by Lisa Haver and Deborah Grill

With every meeting, the Board of Education finds new ways to enforce its mission of speaker suppression. Several APPS members who tried to sign up to speak at the action meeting found the window closed after just two hours.  APPS member Ilene Poses was not only barred from speaking but was barred from entering the auditorium when she arrived. Security told her that there was no more room in the auditorium. When she called those of us who had made it in, we counted over ten empty seats. Ilene was finally admitted along with several other people.    

The board pushes the public away both literally and figuratively. The staff tables in the front of the room set up an ever-expanding barrier between the board and the public. In an auditorium with an official capacity of 240, the board had only set up 82 seats. Lisa Haver asked the board to explain that when she testified; she got no answer.

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When We Fight, We Win

Photo: Lisa Haver
Board of Education Action Meeting: March 23, 2023

by Lynda Rubin and Lisa Haver

Close to 200 students from Saul High School, Franklin Learning Center and several other special-admission schools rallied on the steps of district headquarters to fight against the devastating cuts in faculty and staff caused by the district’s faulty enrollment algorithm. Students and supporters held up signs saying “Save Our Teachers” and “I Am Not An Algorithm”. Parents, teachers, principals, and community members came to support the students and their schools at the rally and in their testimony to the Board. For the first time in a long time, the auditorium was packed, and many who came were diverted to the overflow section in the atrium.

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