by Diane Payne
May 25, 2017
Some Good News
For defenders of public education, finding good news is not easy, but it does happen. At the April 20th SRC meeting, APPS co-founder Lisa Haver told the SRC that she, like many people, is not able to understand a complex budget without some explanation. After the meeting, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Uri Monson asked Lisa for ideas on this. After a number of conversations, Monson issued a “Budget 101” along with the full district budget. This multi-page, graphic tutorial is available on the district website. Sometimes they do listen!
More good news: after months of unnecessary delay, the PA Senate finally did its job and confirmed Estelle Richman, thus filling the fifth seat on the SRC. Richman had been attending SRC meetings as an observer since her nomination by Governor Wolf six months ago. It is not acceptable that we still have this Harrisburg-imposed governance of our school district. Fighting to regain local control of our schools should be a priority of the people of Philadelphia, but until that control is restored we should not have to wait for Harrisburg to do its job and confirm our full complement of commissioners.
Defenders of Public Education Testify
All five members of the commission were present and remained for the entire meeting; none of the commissioners left mid-meeting. At both April meetings, Commissioner Green left early in the meeting without notice or explanation, then called in—after the public speakers finished—to vote on the resolutions. APPS has called into question the legitimacy of the votes at both of those meetings, as Commissioner Green and the SRC failed to follow their own by-laws as stated in Policy No. 006.1
Lisa Haver and APPS Legislative Liaison Lynda Rubin sent Green a letter, asking that he consider resigning if he is not able to fulfill his duties. Green did not reply.
Of course, members of the public ask questions of the SRC in public testimony at every meeting, but rarely get a response. Being unelected means being unaccountable.
Nine members of APPS spoke in defense of public education at this meeting. Eleven other speakers, including members and supporters of the Caucus of Working Educators of the PFT, addressed the timely topic of immigrant student rights. These students, parents, teachers, attorneys and community advocates spoke about the realities of being an immigrant student and what the district needs to do to protect their rights. Dr. Hite was reminded of promises he made in January on this issue, questions were asked, demands were presented—but as usual not a peep from those at the front table, even to acknowledge this information was being heard, processed and/or addressed.
More Wasteful Spending