Defenders of Public Education Speak at the April 27th SRC meeting

SRC pic with missing commishers

On April 27th, 2017 the Philadelphia School Reform Commission met for its bimonthly Action Meeting..

This is testimony of parents, teachers and members of the  Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools in defense of public schools at the meeting

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

Click here to see all of the videos.

Note #1: After charter speakers and before the testimony of teachers and community members, Commissioner Bill Green left the meeting without explanation. He participated in the vote on Resolutions at the end of the meeting by phone.

Commissioner Christopher McKinley did not attend the meeting or participate by phone.

The photo above show the two SRC participants during the time teachers and community members spoke to the SRC.

Note #2: The problem with the camera angle and interruptions in the field of view are due to placement of the camera. The SRC has confined our camera to a “press box” which is located in the middle of the audience thus the quality of the video.

Testimony from community members with the Save Smith School Committee.

save smith schools pic
Click the picture to view three videos from the Save Smith School speakers.

Testimony from six Philadelphia teachers at the April 27th SRC meeting.

Keziah Ridgeway
Click the picture to view six videos of Philadelphia teachers testifying about the lack of a contract after four years.

Testimony of APPS member Deborah Grill at the April 27th SRC meeting.

Deborah Grill sRC 4-27-17
Click the picture to view the video of Debbie’s testimony.

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

Testimony of APPS member Karel Kilimnik at the April 27th SRC meeting.

Karel Kilimnik SRC 4-27-17
Click the picture to view the video of Karel’s testimony.

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

Testimony of APPS member Cheri Micheau at the April 27th SRC meeting.

Cheri Micheau SRC 4-27-17
Click the picture to view the video of Cheri’s testimony at the SRC meeting.

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

Testimony of APPS member Lisa Haver at the April 27th SRC meeting.

Lisa Haver 4-27-17
Click on the picture to view Lisa’s testimony before the SRC.

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

Testimony of APPS member Diane Payne at the April 27th SRC meeting.

Diane Payne SRC 4-27-17
Click on the picture to view Diane’s testimony before the SRC.

Testimony of APPS member Lynda Rubin at the April 27th SRC meeting.

Lynda Rubin pic

Click here to read the transcript of Lynda’s testimony at the April 27th SRC meeting.

The Resolutions vote by the School Reform Commission at the end of the SRC meeting.

SRC pic with missing commishers
Click the picture to view the video of the SRC Resolutions vote.

Ears on the SRC: April 20, 2017

SRC pic 4-20-17

by Diane Payne
April 29, 2017

The March 23 meeting of the School Reform Commission had been posted on the School District (SD) website for months as a regularly scheduled Action Meeting. For some reason, many of us who called the district to sign up to speak were told we had to speak on the topic of next year’s budget. APPS sent an email to the SRC requesting that they inform the district employees who take registration information that the district had never posted this as a budget meeting and that the public cannot be barred from speaking on general topics at any SRC Action Meeting.

Incredibly, the SRC made it even more confusing for those who tried to speak at the April 20 meeting. At first, callers were told they could only speak on the budget. Those who called on subsequent days were told they could speak on anything EXCEPT the budget, as they already had the limit for that one topic. The SRC was actually taking the position that they only wanted to hear from six members on the public about a $2.9 billion budget. Only the City itself, at $4 billion, has a larger budget than the school district. On the day before the meeting, some callers were told that they could not speak at all. Not until letters were sent by APPS, and action was taken by the office of Councilwoman Helen Gym, did the SRC allow all of those who called to speak. APPS’ Karel Kilimnik challenged the SRC to end the disinformation, confusion and lack of transparency.

All four commissioners—Chair Joyce Wilkerson, Commissioners Chris McGinley, Farah Jiminez, and Bill Green—were present. A confirmation hearing for Estelle Richman, nominated by Governor Wolf months ago, has yet to be scheduled. Harrisburg continues to inflict the SRC on Philadelphia but will not take the time to make sure all of its seats are filled.

Five members of APPS spoke at this SRC meeting. Click here to see their testimony and those of other community members who spoke on the budget, lack of transparency and the PFT contract..

CFO’s Budget Report
District Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson gave a 5-minute presentation on a $2.8 BILLION dollar budget—a single page of figures for the FY 18-22 financial plan. Where money is going and how money is spent is indiscernible from the single page of figures and from the presentation. Monson acknowledged the $65 windfall from the city’s reassessment of commercial properties, but recommended that the money be spent on early literacy initiatives and eliminating split grades. This would result in the hiring of an additional 112 teachers. The tenacious George Bezanis of the PFT’s Caucus of Working Educator’s shouted from the back “What about the PFT contract?” Superintendent Hite responded that getting teachers a contract was a “priority” and meetings were scheduled with the PFT. Haven’t we heard that—many times—before? After four years, they are only empty words.

After Monson’s presentation, commissioners questioned him for about 20 minutes on specifics. Munson explained that a portion of the unexpected money must go to charter schools as well. He stressed that the numbers in this budget were based on what is actually available right now as funding streams. If no new revenue becomes available, we can expect to again resort to cuts beginning in FY 19.

More Services Needed for ELL Students

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Eyes on the SRC: May 1, 2017

SRC 3-23-17 pic #1

by Lisa Haver
April 28, 2017

APPS publishes its Eyes on the SRC before each meeting as a preview of what the SRC will be voting on and how much taxpayer money they will be spending.

This time, however, we can only tell you that the SRC has decided to not tell the public what they intend to do at a meeting just a couple days from now. No agenda has been posted. No list of resolutions. Just a list of the schools they might be voting on.

The SRC scheduled a meeting for Monday May 1 at 3 PM with less than one week’s notice. Newspaper articles have said that they intend to vote on renewal proposals for 26 charter schools.  To add insult to injury, the SRC passed a resolution last Thursday to cap speakers for this meeting at 24. There is no notice of this change of policy on the district’s website.

The PA Sunshine Act stipulates that the SRC must tell the public exactly what it is voting on. They continue to violate this law.  They are also violating the court-ordered settlement reached between the district and APPS just last year in which they agreed to post resolutions two weeks before each meeting.

We hope you can make it to this meeting, but we know that many will not be able to because it is at 3 PM.  We must demand that the SRC respect the rights of the public and obey the law.

Eyes on the SRC: April 27, 2017

SRC budget vote

by Karel Kilimnik
April 24, 2017

The Steady Stream of Public Dollars to Private Vendors
A recurring theme in every edition of “Eyes” is how much public money flows from the District into the pockets of corporate education reformers and vendors. The Relay teacher-training program, unaccredited in Pennsylvania, was approved last month for a one-year contract, but we predict that they will return for even more funding next year. Relay is closely affiliated with the Mastery Charter School district.

This month, the SRC proposes to extend its current contract with TNTP (The New Teacher Project) by an additional $1 million. One teacher who testified at the April 20 meeting asked why the SRC funds programs which produce poorly trained teachers while failing to pay their own teachers a fair wage. These companies only seek to profit as part of the program in which students are subjected to unproven methods like blended learning under the guise of innovation.

 APPS has developed a FAQ about these non-profits and consultants hired by the District as part of the privatization program Superintendent Hite was hired to carry out

  1. How much teaching experience, if any, does the staff of these programs have? Were they appointed teachers or TFA-trained? Did they teach in an urban area?
  2. Who sits on the boards of these institutions? Are any board members or staff affiliated with other corporate reformers or vendors? Are any graduates of the Broad Superintendents Academy?
  3. Who are their funders? Any of the big 3 (Gates, Walton Family, Eli Broad)?)

WHAT IF… Instead of shelling out $1.2million to TNTP, the district used that money to hire 30 Bi-Lingual Counseling Assistants? Four students spoke eloquently at the April 20 meeting about the urgent need for more resources, including Bi-Lingual Counseling Assistants. Dr. Hite talks about supporting our immigrant students –now we need to see money going to meet those needs.

This Is Not Real Charter Reform
Please be aware that the state legislature is again attempting to revise the state Charter Law with HB 97, a fix with untenable conditions that propose even less accountability for charters and will certainly weaken public schools. Some crucial facts from the Education Voter website on HB 97 include:

*HB 97 fails to ensure that charters will equitably serve all students and does not address student “push-out” in charters.

* HB 97 fails to address critical funding problems with the current law.

* HB 97 does not address issues of education quality in charter schools or allow school districts to hold charters accountable if they fail to provide students with a quality education.

Please contact your state representatives and urge them to vote NO on HB 97.

Education, not Gentrification
In 2013, the district closed 23 schools including Smith School located in the rapidly gentrifying Point Breeze neighborhood. Save Smith School, a community organization working for over three years to have Smith School re-opened as a public school, is holding an Education Not Gentrification rally at 4 PM on Thursday, April 27th just before the SRC meeting. Meet at 4 PM at the Thomas Paine Plaza (adjacent to the Municipal Services Building across from the North side of City Hall); we will march down to 440.   Come and support the parents and community members defending public education in Point Breeze and in all neighborhoods.

The next SRC Action Meeting is Thursday April 27 at 4:30 PM. To register to speak, call 215.400.4180 before 3PM Wednesday April 26.

Resolutions of Note

Click here to read selected Resolutions and the APPS analysis.