Student Achievement and Support Committee Report, December 5, 2019

by Lynda Rubin

In response to repeated public requests, the Board Committees have begun posting the Committee agendas, including descriptions of Action Items to be considered, one week before the meeting. However, 7 new items were added to the agenda just hours before this meeting, 6 of which are charter renewals (including 5 Mastery charters). Yet the CSO had sufficient time to prepare an extensive power-point presentation. We also question how parents and students from all 5 Mastery schools were printed on the official speakers list. How did charter supporters sign up 24 hours ahead of time to speak on Action Items that were not publicly posted until 5 hours before the meeting? 

Additionally, the power-point slides prepared for the District Reports by staff were not posted until the day after the meeting. Board members continue to say that Committee meetings are where deliberation and dialogue take place, and have used that justification for not responding to questions at Action Meetings.  The Board continues to withhold information about charter matters until after the Board votes. How can people ask informed questions with limited information? 

Present: Chair Angela McIver, Committee members Mallory Fix Lopez, Julia Danzy,  Maria McColgan; Student Representative Doha Ibrahim. Leticia Egea-Hinton also attended. Co-Chair Chris McGinley was absent, but did review materials before the meeting and left questions for staff.

Minutes from the November 14, 2019 committee meeting were approved and will be posted on the website.

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Finance and Facilities Committee Report: December 5, 2019

by Lisa Haver

At this last meeting of 2019, the Committee heard updates about abatement of environmental crises and the Comprehensive School Planning Review (CSPR). Content of Action Items under review were neither distributed to the public nor projected during the meeting. The power-point presentations were not posted online until the day after the meeting.

Present: Co-chair Leticia Egea-Hinton, Committee Members Wayne Walker and  Joyce Wilkerson. Board members Christopher McGinley, Maria McColgan, Mallory Fix Lopez, and Julia Danzy also attended.  Co-chair Lee Huang was absent; Walker acted as Co-chair. Dr. Hite, who presented the updates on the SLA/Franklin, Peirce Elementary and other environmental crises sites at the November Committee meeting, did not attend.

Minutes of the November meeting were approved by voice vote.

APPS members have asked when questions raised in Committee meetings by the public, and by Board members themselves, would be answered. In one step toward accountability, the meeting began with updates from senior staff to answer questions asked in previous meetings.

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Eyes on the Board of Education: December 12, 2019

by Karel Kilimnik 

Walk down any hall at 440 and pass five senior staff members–odds are that three will be Broad Academy alums or fellows,  including Superintendent William Hite. Go to their Linkedin pages and search for any not Teach for America-trained.  Central Office staff are now all “Chiefs”–not Directors– taking a page from Jeb Bush’s  Chiefs for Change, another corporate reform lobbying group advocating the usual failed policies including uniform implementation of Common Core State Standards, using test scores to evaluate teachers, A-to-F report cards for schools, expanding charter schools, and expansion of dehumanizing online learning. The Board is poised to approve contracts for more Broad Fellows based both in Central Administration Offices and in targeted schools. Instead of rising through District administrative levels,  many are brought in from afar via TFA and TNTP.

Grants from foundations and non-profits open the door for  their anonymous board members to influence curriculum and learning across the District. The William Penn Foundation, who paid for the now infamous Boston Consulting Group plan to close neighborhood schools in 2013,  has moved into underwriting Early Childhood Education programs. The Neubauer Family Foundation, built on Aramark money, is partnering with the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) on Principal Mentoring (Item 31).  Last month, the Board approved, despite some member’s concerns, accepting a grant from Neubauer in  support of the questionable KIPP College Match Program that the District will have to pick up the tab for after the grant runs out.  These items are touted as the latest best practices but offer no solid research to support those claims. Like many Hite administration initiatives, from Redesign Schools to Renaissance Charters to the System of Great Schools,  there is little if any data to indicate success. And their shelf lives are short. Business consultants replace education experts, as in the case of Item 9 (Contract with District Management Group, LLC for Operations and Facilities Review). This contract reveals scant information, again contradicting the Board’s commitment to transparency and accountability. These contracts should be published concurrent with Board approval, thus ending the public’s having to file a Right to Know request and waiting weeks or months for the document. Educators have been relegated to the back of the room when decisions are made about spending priorities while the Board spends more on outside corporate consultants. Is this any way to run a school district?

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Defenders of Public Education Speak Before the BOE, November 21, 2019

BOE

Click on the individual’s name to read a transcript of his or her testimony.

 Kathleen Butts on Environmental Safety Plan

Peg Devine on Student Immunizations

Barbara Dowdall on Public School Dreams

Eileen Duffey on Student Immunizations

Deborah Grill on Outsourcing to Attuned Partners

Lisa Haver on Accountability and Responsibility

Daun Kauffman on Grants for STEP

Kristin Luebbert on the K-2 Suspension Ban

Tricia Malloy on Student Immunizations

Heather Marcus on the Contract with KIPP

Diane Payne on Accountability and Outsourcing

Ilene Poses on Using Local Resources

Coleen Quinn on Student Immunizations

Lynda Rubin on Outsourcing Programs ro Private Companies