APPS members respond to more hype from Hite about progress in the Philadelphia School District.

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Philadelphia School Superintendent Dr. William Hite addresses the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation at the Union League. Photo by Darryll Murphy.

Despite challenges, Hite optimistic about future of District | The Notebook – September 28, 2016

Notebook comments by APPS members Lisa Haver and Rich Miglore to Superintendent Hite’s speech.


Rich Migliore

There are many many things the district still needs to do to provide every child with a first rate instructional program that meets all of their needs. A prime example is that the district educates thousands of children who suffer from Dyslexia. Yet the district does not provide those students with certified reading specialists. Nor do charter schools.

If we really care about those children, we would provide them with certified reading specialists in every school. School Librarians, too. Dyslexic children need the services of a highly qualified certified professional to learn to overcome their disability. And please, do not even begin to say that sticking them on a computer program neets their needs. That notion is — purely ridiculous.

There are also many things the district could do to save costs and provide more money to direct services to children. Every month advocates read the resolutions list and wonder why the district wastes so much money on outside contracts with suspect organizations which provide no worthwhile services to the district, nor its children.

The money and legal costs the district wastes on its failed and suspect renaissance school program is astounding and misplaced. The primary concern raised at the recent Pa. School Board’s Association “Education Summit” was the outlandish cost of charter schools. They explained that their districts could provide the very same thing for less than one quarter of the costs of their charter schools.

The costs the district expends on legal fees to outside counsel is also horrendous and is unnecessary.

If we just efficiently minded those costs, there would be millions more dollars which could and should be appropriated to children. We have few early childhood “early intervention” programs for children who are on the “autism spectrum.” Early intervention programs are crucial for those children. They should begin at age 2 and school district early intervention programs should be provided for them at age 3.

Mayor Kenney should be “on top of that.” So should Dr. Hite.

Dr. Hite knows I speak from the heart.


Lisa Haver

Another massive misappropriation of district funds is the Renaissance program. The renewals of two Aspira schools and two Universal schools have been put on hold for months now, without explanation. We know that members of the SRC have taken part in private negotiations with Aspria representatives. Why? The SRC’s Charter School Office unequivocally recommended non-renewal for these schools. What is going on with the Universal renewals–are they also in negotiations with them? Hite and the SRC has a responsibility to explain why they have, in effect, rejected their own reports.

The renewal of three Mastery Renaissance schools has also been postponed. Why? A quick look at the data for two of these schools shows that they have not succeeded in making them anything close to “high-quality”.

Part of Hite’s job is to let people know that public education should be supported. Fine. But someone needs to ask him some hard questions, including how he justifies continuing to turn over neighborhood schools to charters when the district’s own data shows that this very expensive program is not working.

 

 

Ears on the SRC–September 15, 2016

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by Diane Payne
September 25, 2016

Inside Track

Titles of resolutions for charter renewals of Aspira, Mastery, and Universal schools were posted–but not the resolutions themselves. This is a deliberate move on the part of the SRC to make sure the public does not know what they intend to vote on.

We expected a packed house of charter school families to support their respective schools but found a sparsely filled auditorium instead. It would seem that the charter schools had the inside track on that one – again.  (More on this later.)

Dr. Hite was absent due to a death in the family. His Chief of Staff, Naomi Wyatt, sat in for him.

APPS Speakers

Nine APPS members used their three minutes at the mic to continue to advocate for public schools against the ongoing assault by the SRC and the Hite administration: Karel Kilimnik, Diane Payne, Lisa Haver, Rich Liuzzi, Tonya Bah, Kristin Leubbert, Eileen Duffy, Barbara Dowdall, and Lynda Rubin.  APPS members spoke on charter renewals; support for early childhood teachers in light of the SRC’s decision on suspensions; lack of transparency from the SRC; the shuttering of a neighborhood and its reopening as a “contract school”; and the lack of respect for teachers and school professionals shown by certain members of the SRC. (Click here to  view or to read the APPS September 15th SRC testimony,)

If not for Lisa Haver’s testimony, there would have been no mention of the disturbing reports on Fox 29 News about the sexual harassment lawsuit against Aspira CEO Alfredo Calderon, which was settled by Aspira Inc. for over $300,000 plus attorney’s fees. The complaint, filed by a former Aspira administrator, alleged that Calderon bragged about “sexual conquests of parents, teachers and students.”

Who’s Out, Who’s In?


Click here to read the entire article.

APPS members testimony before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – September 15, 2016

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On September 15, 2016 the Philadelphia School Reform Commission met for its monthly Action Meeting.

This is testimony of members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools at this meeting.

All nine videos can be viewed here.

Click on the pictures below to view individual videos. Speakers are in order of appearance at the SRC meeting


Video of APPS member Karel Kilimnik testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Karel’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Diane Payne testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Diane’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Lisa Haver testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Lisa’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Rich Liuzzi testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Rich’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Tonya Bah testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Video of APPS member Kristin Luebbert testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Kristin’s testimony.

Video of Bill Green attacking Philadelpia teachers which Kristen refers to in her testimony.


Video of APPS member Eileen Duffey testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Video of APPS member Barbara Dowdall testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Barbara’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Lynda Rubin testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Lynda’s testimony.


Eyes on the SRC – September 15, 2016

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by Karel Kilimnik

September 13, 2016

As the school year begins, we witness another disappearing act by the SRC and the Hite administration. Now you see the resolutions, now you don’t. And when we asked for copies of resolutions already posted and distributed, but for some reason deleted from the district website, we were told by SRC staff that we had to file a Right to Know request. The SRC has made resolutions concerning ASPIRA, Olney High and Stetson Middle schools, along with Universal Audenreid High and Vare Middle schools, vanish into thin air—until they decided to make them reappear. The last time they were seen was at the April 28, 2016 SRC Action Meeting, when the Charter School Office strongly recommended non-renewal. Attorney and former mayoral candidate Kenneth Trujillo presented himself at the May 19 meeting as “Oversight Counsel” for ASPIRA, Inc; he admitted that ASPIRA had funneled money designated for Olney and Stetson into their other enterprises, but promised to correct that “cross-collateralization”. Trujillo told the SRC commissioners that ASPIRA Inc. had engaged William Blair and Company, one of the largest investment banks in the country. If ASPIRA wants to clean up its financial problems why are they spending money hiring William Blair & Company, “ a privately held financial services firm that provides investment bankingequity researchbrokerageasset management and private capital services.” What does this have to do with getting Aspira’s finances in order? Commissioner Bill Green made it clear that the SRC would be meeting with Aspira representatives to ensure that the company maintained control of these two schools.

APPS has been active in the five months since April to ensure that the public knows how the SRC is spending public money. We have written to the Mayor and the city’s Chief Integrity Officer, along with the Inspector General appointed to oversee the district. Negotiations with charter companies should not take place in private.

Also pulled from the bag of tricks is the reappearance of renewal resolutions for three Mastery charters—Clymer, Gratz Middle and High, and Shoemaker middle—also originally posted April 28. Despite low test scores, the Charter office recommended renewal. Why did the SRC postpone these for five months? Have SRC commissioners also been negotiating with Mastery? Originally they were posted but then they disappeared from the website. There is also a proposed charter amendment for KIPP Philadelphia Charter. This proposal was denied twice before. Why is the SRC allowing KIPP to submit the same amendment? Why so many do-overs for charters but none for public schools like Wister?

In April 2013, the SRC voted to close Vaux High School as part of the Hite administration’s massive closure campaign. The reason: under-enrollment. Fast forward to the present: the SRC, with no presentation or discussion, will vote to re-open Vaux—not as the public school it was, but as something called a “contract school”. The district, apparently, has been in negotiations with a company called Big Picture. Instead of supporting the school community to provide resources for all of their students, the district chose to scatter those students, disperse the staff, and leave a hole in the neighborhood. Is this the beginning of a new pattern, as more and more people see what a disaster charters have become? Close a school for a couple of years and then allow a non-profit to open it as a “contract” school? Public education dollars are the modern day gold rush for carpetbagger corporations.

Past practice shows us that these charter school operators will be out in full force at the September 15th SRC Meeting. We need for everyone to show up, ask questions either through testimony or by holding signs. We need to show that the community has questions and concerns about the direction the unelected SRC commissioners are taking.

The School Reform Commission is a governmental body. They control the over $2 billion dollar budget for the District and as public officials they must include public input. It’s difficult to comment on issues when Resolutions pop up and then disappear until a Resolution announcing the decision appears.

WE REALLY NEED YOU TO JOIN US AT THE SRC MEETING ON THURSDAY SEPTEMEBER 15th. Judging from the nature of the Resolutions and past practice, the charter operators will be out in full force. In order to get upstairs and into the auditorium call to register to speak by Wednesday September 14 at 4:00 p.m. The phone is 215 400 4180. The meeting starts at 4:30.

Click here to read APPS Analysis of selected resolutions on which the SRC will vote on September 15th.