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
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.