Ears on the SRC: January 21, 2016

SRC 1-21-16

by Diane Payne

2016 got off to a predictable start with the first SRC meeting of this new year filled with old agendas for privatization and more new rules for speaking at SRC meetings. Some new lows include possible conflicts of interest, indications of back room dealings, blatant Sunshine Act violations—in other words, ever greater levels of the SRC’s breach of the public trust.

Hostile Takeovers of Public Schools by Charter Companies

Compelling testimony, including data and researched information on two charter companies chosen to take over two neighborhood schools, was presented by teachers and community members Cordelia Kao, Christine Kilenut, Matt Haydt, and Sherrie Cohen. Global Leadership Academy was chosen by Dr. Hite to “turn around” Samuel Huey Elementary in West Philadelphia, and Great Oaks Charter for Cooke Middle School in Logan. These concerns, of course, had no effect on the commissioners; they voted to approve as expected. Once again, only Chair Marjorie Neff voted No on charters. She explained that the district is still in a “zero-sum game” and that it could not afford to place more schools in the Renaissance program.

Hite and SRC Betray Wister Community

Click here to read the rest of the article.

APPS testimony to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – January 21, 2016

In the order of appearance at the SRC meeting.

Click here to see all of the videos.

Click the picture to view each video individually.


Lisa Haver SRC 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Lisa Haver testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.

The full transcript of Lisa’s testimony (including the part cut off by the three minute time limit).


 

Karel Kilimnic SRC 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Karel Kilimnik testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.

The full transcript of Karel’s testimony (including the part cut off by the three minute time limit).


Eileen Duffey SRC 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Eileen Duffey testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.

The full transcript of Eileen’s testimony.


 

 

Diane Payne SRC 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Diane Payne testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.

The full transcript of Diane’s testimony.

 


 

Carol Heinsdorf 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Carol Heinsdorff testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.

The full transcript of Carol’s testimony.


Debbie Grill SRC 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Deborah Grill testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.

The full transcript of Deborah’s testimony (including the part cut off by the three minute time limit).


Alison McDowell SRC 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Alison McDowell testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.

The full transcript of Alison’s testimony (including the part cut off by the three minute time limit).


Robin Lowry  SRC 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Robin Lowry testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.


 

Richard Migliore SRC 1-21-16

Video of APPS member Richard Migliore testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – January 21, 2016.

The full transcript of Richard’s testimony (including the part cut off by the three minute time limit).


 

 

 

 

The Battle for Wister Elementary School

Wister

At the December 17, 2015 meeting of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, APPS member Coleman Poses testified that the SRC was using incorrect information for the Wister Elementary School “turnaround” to Mastery Charter.

On January 11, 2016, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite announced that he had reversed his position on Wister Elementary and that he was recommending that it remain a public school.    According to NewsWorks reporter Kevin McCorry:

The proposed conversions have been a topic of fierce debate at School Reform Commission meetings in recent months. Each school has seen parents and advocates pushing both for and against conversion.

Wister was home of the most coordinated campaign to keep the school within district control. Community member Coleman Poses correctly pointed out that the district relied on faulty enrollment data in its pitch to convert the school.

The response of local corporate education reformers was to go into overdrive, as Hite’s reversal would interfere with Mastery’s attempt to create its own charter district in Philadelphia.   The Philadelphia Inquirer, owned by Mastery backer H. F. Lenfest, published an article publicizing Mastery’s petition drive and its aftermath.

On January 18, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook published a commentary by Jonathan Cetel, director of the corporate education reform group PennCan, in which he says that Hite made the wrong decision on Wister.  He contends that regardless of the faulty data, Wister should be turned over to Mastery. In a comment after the article, Coleman Poses responded:

I take issue with several of the points that Cetel makes in his commentary. He speaks to the fact that 34% of the families in Wister’s catchment area have chosen other schools to attend. Nowhere does he mention the fact that the school’s capacity is 517, and that the school was operating at 88% of its capacity in 2013.  But even if we accept Mr. Cetel’s argument that 34% of Wister catchment families have voted with their feet, what does this say about the 66% of the families that have remained in their local district school?

Mr. Cetel points out that money alone will not solve Wister’s problems, but his argument appears to belie this point. He mentions that in the 2010-2011 school year, Wister received more money from the district, yet was still struggling academically. Missing from this argument, however, was the fact that Wister was still making AYP, and that, when the money was taken away, proficiency rates diminished at the school. Missing also, was the fact that the school was still not funded the way that schools in richer districts were funded. Given the fact that Wister also has more socio-economic challenges than many of the schools in richer districts, the results at the school are even more impressive.

What confirms Mr. Cetel’s argument might be the fact that one would expect even more progress from the cash flush Mastery Schools. His cherished view of Gratz High School appears less dazzling when one looks at the school’s rating in the Great Philly Schools database, where Gratz scored an overall 3 out of 10 for all Philadelphia high schools, with a “1” in Math, and a “3” in reading. Although I am certain that a number of Gratz students like Jerome and Terrell make it to college, those colleges will need to provide a lot of help to bring them up to the level of proficiency that they should have gotten in high school.

Joining the usual refrain of corporate reformers, Mr. Cetel contends that more resources will make no difference in providing a quality education at Wister.  He fails to explain why that same standard does not apply to Mastery, one of the greatest beneficiaries of the policies which continue to starve public schools while feeding more and more to charters.


 

Update

Ignoring its much vaunted “data” which it claims is the basis for turning  “underperforming schools” over to charters, the SRC at its Thursday, January 21st meeting voted to begin the process of turning Wister over to Mastery Charter company regardless of the data.

SRC moves toward giving 3 schools to charter firms | Philadelphia Inquirer

In bombshell, SRC defies Hite, votes to turn Wister over to Mastery | the Notebook

SRC overrules Superintendent Hite, moves to convert three schools into charters [photes]
Newsworks

Sylvia Simms, the SRC member who changed the fate of a school | Philadelphia Inquirer

What is clear is that public schools will continue to be starved and the resulting corrupt “data” and the the interests of the community will continue to be ignored in order to achieve a privatization agenda.

Eyes on the SRC: January 21, 2016

SRC 11-19-15 #2

By Karel Kilimnik

Welcome to the Sixth Edition of Eyes on the SRC.

A note to our readers: this analysis is based on what the SRC has released to date. The SRC often adds new resolutions up until the day of the meeting. We will review the list periodically and let you know of any new resolutions. In addition, rules for speaking appear to be fluid at this time. From the district website:

Revisions to current practice regarding speaker order: 

The School Reform Commission will be implementing new protocols based on two general principles. First, it is important to group speakers on the same or similar topics at Action Meetings in order to give Commissioners the ability to gain the big picture on each topic. Second, the Commission would like to encourage new voices and topics at meetings.

Beginning January 21st, 2016, the School Reform Commission (SRC) will be enacting the following changes to the order in which speakers testify at SRC Action Meetings:

  • Student speakers will continue to be prioritized and normally will speak first.
  • Other speakers will be grouped by topic, based on the order in which their topics were registered.
  • Speakers who did not speak at the previous meeting, will be allowed to speak first within their topic group, and followed by those speakers who did have the opportunity to speak at the previous meeting.
  • Speakers on resolutions will no longer be prioritized, given that all speakers have an opportunity to speak before votes are taken on resolutions. These speakers will be grouped by topic and the time at which they register along with all other speakers. [Emphasis added]

 When you call to register to speak, please ask what number your topic is. Let’s hold them to their new set of rules. Fasten your seatbelt for the ride. It may be bumpy.

Next SRC meeting: Thursday January 21, 5:30 PM. To register to speak you must call 215.400.4180 by 4:30 January 20. It’s best to identify yourself as a teacher, parent, or community member as the rules stipulate that only “one member of an organization can register to speak.”


Click here for: 

Proposed Resolutions for January 21, 2016 SRC Action Meeting