by Karel Kilimnik
As we contemplate this new round of increasingly familiar resolutions, several things stand out. One is the continued funding of vendors of questionable quality to provide professional development, even after the recently approved PFT contract was characterized as “fiscally irresponsible” by members of the SRC. Another is the need for a fair and equitable funding formula so that schools do not have to rely on the largesse of foundations, non-profits, and universities to provide necessary resources and fund programs of their choosing. The voices of the district’s true stakeholders—students, educators, parents, community members—are diminished by those of private entities who have no obligation to be transparent or accountable to the public. Public schools are not charities. They must be supported by public money.
October’s resolutions demonstrate the growing influence of both Drexel and Temple universities in the district’s business. Two of the five SRC commissioners are employed by Temple. Temple was awarded a $70, 000 contract by the SRC to facilitate the community outreach component of Dr. Hite’s latest Priority Schools process currently underway. Temple has also acquired a $2.7 million dollar federal grant dealing with ELLs (B1) as well as managing a Music Education Project (B5). Drexel expands its involvement with the Powel School (A6) that raises the question of resources allocated within a certain zip code. The “Hunger Games” continue as schools scramble for resources that should be mandated and supported by the district. More professional development money lines the pockets of vendors such as Carnegie Learning (B16), again reinforcing the message that the problem is ineffective teaching and not the dearth of resources provided to struggling schools.
The 3.5 million raised by the Fund of the Philadelphia School District was used to bring back Certified Librarians instead of “classroom libraries”. A Certified School Librarian works with every child in a school, not just students who have classroom libraries. They get to know the child over a period of years and guide students with research skills, a wide array of books both fiction and non-fiction, and developing an analytical perspective.
Next SRC meetings: Thursday October 19 at 4:30 PM; Thursday November 16 at 4:30 PM. Call 215 400 4180 by 3p.m. the day before in order to register to speak. Please consider attending even if you are not speaking.