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.