Ears on the SRC – February 16, 2017


by Diane Payne
February 25, 2017

Speaking Out for Public Education

All four appointed commissioners were present. The as-yet-to-be-PA Senate-confirmed Estelle Richman attended as a member of the public, as she did at the last meeting. Members of Youth United for Change (YUC) spoke in support of Kensington Health Sciences Academy and against any staff turnover that might occur as a result of being targeted as a Priority School. Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACT) supporters spoke in favor of SRC-7 which approved their application to expand.

Note: in place of a complete resolution, the SRC posted a comment that SRC-7 is a “quasi-judicial” resolution and that more information could be found on the Charter School Office page of the district website. It is a violation of the PA Sunshine Act for any governmental body to vote on any motion or resolution without posting publicly or reading it in its entirety at the meeting—and without giving the public an opportunity to speak on it. In a move that we would consider a possible falsification of the public record, the SRC posted a full resolution, which is NOT the one they voted on, two days AFTER the meeting.

Seven APPS members spoke at this meeting. The actions of the SRC continue to tear at the fabric of our PUBLIC education system through resolutions that are passed each month which give away schools, approves more charters, forces out staff, accepts grants with privatizing conditions, and continues to outsource district jobs. If we believe in public education as a cornerstone of our democracy, then confronting this Commission remains crucial.

Victory for Innocent Teacher!

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APPS testimony before the School Reform Commission – February 16, 2017


On February 16th, 2017 the Philadelphia School Reform Commission met for its monthly Action Meeting.

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

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

Note: The video quality of these testimonies is poor because of the obstacles the SRC has made in the videoing of the meetings. In the past, video was made from an unobstructed view. We are now told that video must be done in a very restricted area which is behind the speakers and over the heads of the audience. This means, besides showing the speakers from behind, there are constant interruptions of the field of view by anyone blocking the view when moving around in the audience. When we asked senior staff why the change, they told us that they decided that was the best place. No other explanation. (Look at the videos of APPS testimony before the January 19th, 2017 meeting  and compare the video quality with the current postings.) 

The audio is not affected.

This is yet another sign of the erosion of our democratic rights, in this case, the right to the public being informed about what goes on at meetings of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission through a professionally done video. When you view these videos, keep in mind the SRC does not want you to see them.

Video of APPS member Lynda Rubin testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – February 16, 2017.


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

Video of APPS member Kristen Luebbert testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – February 16, 2017.


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

Video of APPS member Diane Payne testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – February 16, 2017.


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

Video of APPS member Karel Kilimnik testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – February 16, 2017.


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

Video of APPS member Barbara Dowdall testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – February 16, 2017.


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

Video of APPS member Robin Lowry testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – February 16, 2017.


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

Video of APPS member Lisa Haver testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – February 16, 2017.


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

Eyes on the SRC – February 16, 2017


By Karel Kilimnik
February 14, 2017


At this meeting, Dr. Hite will announce the fate of the eleven Priority Schools targeted for this year’s version of turnaround. Four out of the five options presented (with few details) at public meetings involve pushing teachers out of their schools—without due process—by having them re-apply for their jobs.

Last fall, the SRC approved $200,000 to hire Cambridge Education to do what the Superintendent’s staff should have done: assessing what is working in these eleven schools and how the district could make them work better. The Cambridge report offers very limited data based on meetings with an undetermined number of parents, students, teachers, and community members. APPS members who attended the meetings reported very small turnout at most schools. Cambridge Education did not earn that fee and the SRC should demand a refund. You can read our reports on the Priority Schools and Cambridge Education here.

These Priority Schools are the latest phase of the demolition derby playing in our school district. Last year it was placing three schools into the Renaissance Charter Program. Pushback from the community was so fierce that one of the charter companies dropped out of the running. The previous year it was allowing parents to vote on staying with the district or being turned over to a charter management company. They voted overwhelmingly to remain with the district. As a result parents are no longer allowed to vote on the fate of their children’s schools. Who knows what next year’s cohort of schools to be “turned around” will be called.

We list the resolutions below which illustrate the continued destabilization of the district. Our schools have been stripped of essentials, most of which have not been restored, since Hite’s 2013 Doomsday Budget. There is no guarantee that every school will be able to have an adequate number of counselors and nurses after this year. If a school does not have an outsider donor like the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) showering them with money it is difficult to survive. But these funders come with their own agenda that silences parent, student, and teacher voices.

Our comments are not meant in any way to criticize the specific schools mentioned but the inequities in allocated resources . Both Hill-Freedman World Academy and SLA-MS appear to offer many opportunities to their students and families. We firmly believe in the necessity of having a high-quality and equitable district where every single student is valued, where every school is fully resourced. We envision a district where private funders supplement rather than providing necessary resources, such as purchasing a teacher for one school chosen by them (see Resolution A7).

Note: Because of the district’s change in formatting the Resolution Summary, we have experienced technical difficulties in producing this issue of Eyes. The SRC staff, in answer to our question, has said that due to the high volume of pages posted for the February 16th SRC meeting they cannot post it in Word format as was done previously. That makes it impossible for us to copy individual resolutions without transcribing each one.

In the December 2016 Eyes we noted that Resolutions SRC 1 and 2 referred to policies with no description. This month we have policy descriptions that involve numerous pages. Next month, the SRC should post them as an addendum and not as part of the actual resolutions. They certainly have far more resources than we do to resolve this technical issue in the interest of greater transparency.

(Eyes December 2016) APPS Analysis:  If the public is to review this information, then links should be provided for the policies listed here on the district’s website. Where is the description for each item? The PA State Sunshine Act states that the public has the right to comment on matters of concern”. The wording here may be an effort to provide more information but it falls short of providing enough background for the public to comment.

The next SRC Action meeting is Thursday February 16th at 4:30 PM. Call 215.400.4180 before Wednesday February 15, 4:30 PM to sign up to testify.

Click here to read Resolutions of Note and the APPS analysis.


Ears on the SRC – February 8, 2017


Ears on the SRC: Special Meeting February 8, 2017

by Diane Payne
February 14, 2017

This special meeting of the School Reform Commission was held for the sole purpose of voting on the three remaining charter school applications. A total of five applications were submitted to the district by the November 15th deadline, but the Metropolitan Philadelphia Classical and the Wilbur Wright Aerospace and Aviation Academy applications were subsequently withdrawn. The three remaining applicants were Deep Roots Charter School, Friendship Whittier Charter School, and KIPP Parkside Charter School.

Commissioners present included Chairwoman Joyce Wilkerson, Commissioners Farah Jimenez, Bill Green, and Christopher McGinley. Governor Wolf’s newest appointment, Estelle Richman, has not yet been confirmed by the State Senate, but she did attend the meeting as an observer.

Hearings to analyze the applications were held in December and January by the Charter School Office (CSO) with outside hearing officers overseeing a panel for each applicant. The only notice for these hearings were buried on the district website, so APPS members were not present at the December hearings. However, one or more APPS members attended the January hearings for four applicants (Wilbur Wright Aerospace withdrew before the hearing process, Metropolitan withdrew after).   APPS’ Research Committee has written analyses of each charter based on the application itself, information given at the hearing, and independent research.

The CSO also had significant concerns about each of the remaining three applicants. Their reports can be found here on the School District website.

Resolution from the Floor

Click here to read the entire Ears on the SRC – February 8, 2017.