Observations from APPS member Karel Kilimnik
about how privatization is being advanced in the School District of Philadelphia as 2015 ends.
December 24, 2015
Three Neighborhood Schools to Be Turned Over to Charter Operators
In early October Superintendent William Hite announced that three neighborhood schools would be turned into Renaissance Charter. Those schools are Cooke in Logan, Wister in East Germantown, and Huey in West Philadelphia. The school communities were given no say in this. They were told their only choice would be which charter provider would be chosen. Hite learned last year that when parents have a real choice, they will reject being charterized. Teachers, parents and students fought to keep Steele Elementary in Nicetown and Munoz-Marin in North Philadelphia public; the parent vote was overwhelmingly against going charter. This time, he decided to impose this on parents through what turned out to be a very murky process. Teachers were shut out of the process altogether. The district set up an Evaluation Committee at each school and chose five parents to participate. That committee would make its recommendation to the district and the SRC on the future of the school.
What the Hite administration actually did was set up meetings run by District staff to “inform” parents. Parents and teachers at all of the three schools were purposely misled as to the location and time of these meetings. For some reason, none of the meetings was held at the schools themselves. At Cooke, the parents had to become detectives to find the meeting. At Wister, community members showed up at the announced location only to find that the meeting was being held somewhere else. People piled into cars and raced over. Yes, seats were empty at the actual district location simply because they were deceived about the correct place. Are parents supposed to trust the people who deliberately lied to them about the location of a meeting to make an honest decision about the future of their children’s school?
The too-small room overflowed with participants. The District staff was there to sell this plan to parents. To do so they enlisted a parent from Cleveland Mastery charter school. Wister parents were respectful and listened to her story and when she finished questioned district staff for specifics. They had no answers. People saw through their manipulations and sales pitch. District staff seemed taken aback by the opposition to their “wonderful plan.”
APPS member Coleman Poses presented testimony at the November School Reform Commission showing how inaccurate the District data was for Wister. An SRC staff member admitted to Coleman that they used the wrong school’s data for Wister. Despite being told about this mistaken data the District continues to sail ahead with turning Wister over to Mastery.
Mastery Marketing In Full Force at Wister