Rally and Cry
This SRC meeting was preceded by a rally—sponsored by Parents of Wister, NAACP, PFT, APPS, PCAPS, and Parents United—in front of the school district administration building. Speakers addressed the district’s failure to provide the resources needed for thriving public schools. A large and noisy presence of Mastery supporters on the other side of the steps periodically disrupted the speeches of parents and community members, including the president of the local NAACP. Once inside the auditorium, a vocal contingent of the Mastery supporters occasionally ridiculed and disparaged teachers and parents of Wister, as well as those supporting their fight to keep Wister public.
What is noteworthy about this scenario is that it plays right into the hands of the corporate machine. This strategy of pitting community members against each other serves to secure the power and profit of the few over the democratic voice of all. Parents, students, teachers and community members all want the same thing; a fair, equitable and safe education for our children. Although we want the very same thing we find ourselves divided by a promise that some see as salvation for their child while others know is the handing over the democratic rights of every child. The corporate model promises what we all want for our children but comes with two costly price tags: the continued disinvestment of traditional public schools coupled with an alarming loss of democratic rights.
Eight members of APPS provided testimony at this SRC meeting: Diane Payne, Deb Grill, Karel Kilimnik, Carol Heinsdorf, Lisa Haver, Barbara Dowdall, Kristin Luebbert, and Robin Lowry. (To see videos of these presentation or read the transcripts, visit APPS members testimony to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.) The testimonies called out the SRC and Superintendent Hite for a wide range of dereliction of their duties to safeguard public education.