Welcome to the Seventh Edition of Eyes on the SRC.
by Karel Kilimnik
Before we get into the specific resolutions, we want to give an update on rules for speakers, as the SRC has changed them twice over the past two months. Since they won’t vote to make them official policy, you never know when they will change them again. We believe in school governance that is transparent in all aspects. The rules below are 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 February 18, 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. Topics registered by new speakers, those who did not speak at the previous meeting, will be prioritized.
- Speakers on resolutions will no longer be prioritized, given that all speakers are heard before votes are taken on resolutions.
We also want to talk about the ramifications of what happened at the January 21, 2016 meeting. Commissioner Sylvia Simms introduced a motion from the floor at 10 p.m. to return Wister Elementary to the Renaissance list and have Mastery Charter take over its management, in effect publicly overturning the Superintendent’s decision to do an internal turnaround instead.
There was no resolution posted on the agenda, and no resolution was read aloud. Despite requests from APPS members, Chair Marjorie Neff refused to let any member of the public speak on the resolution–another clear violation of the PA Sunshine Act.
In fact, the Wister community, because it had been assured that no vote would be taken, was not represented at the meeting. Simms reassured the audience of her full confidence in Hite. You might ask: why do we need a $300,000 superintendent if you don’t support his decisions? Two other SRC members voted to approve Simms’ motion, even though they admitted that the district had used faulty data when it chose Wister in the first place. Mayor Kenney, City Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilwoman Helen Gym and many in the education community have expressed outrage about the SRC’s undemocratic action, which clearly violated the PA Sunshine Act.
The other issue that comes to mind is what criteria will they now use to turn other schools over to charter operators?
APPS Calls on the SRC to Rescind Its Illegal Vote
Alliance for Public School – February 1, 2016
Plan to privatize 3 schools is inconsistent and a gross overreach
The Philadelphia Public School Notebook – February 10, 2016