Ears on the SRC: November 16, 2017

SRC demise celebration

by Diane Payne
November 27, 2017


All five Commissioners were present for this historic meeting of the School Reform Commission. Resolution SRC-3— Recommendation of Dissolution of the School Reform Commission was passed at 7:35 p.m. with a 3-1-1 vote. Commissioners Wilkerson, Richardson, and McGinley voted in favor, Commissioner Green voted against, and Commissioner Jimenez abstained. This joyous occasion ended sixteen years of state-imposed control of our city’s schools. There were cheers, hugs, dances, and high-fives when the resolution passed. The tireless and persistent effort of the Our Cities Our Schools coalition of parents, teachers, students, unions, and community advocacy groups made this happen. [See APPS’ statement on the end of the SRC and what should come next.]

Our City Our Schools (OCOS) and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) organized a celebratory rally outside district headquarters just before the meeting. APPS co-founder Lisa Haver addressed the crowd, along with Councilwoman Helen Gym, State Senator Vincent Hughes, PFT leaders, parents and community members. There was much to celebrate on this new day, one that signaled the end of a state-imposed system that brought austerity and corporate reform for a perfect storm of devastation to the city’s public schools

Having worked for the preservation and improvement of public education for over five years as an organization, and for many years as individuals, APPS members know that this is not the end of challenges for our school system. We will continue to advocate for the what other districts in Pennsylvania have had for many years: schools that provide the education our children deserve governed by a democratically elected school board.

Some of the Philadelphia news outlets and their coverage of this important event:

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The Growing Influence of Jounce Partners

jouince parntersby Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin
November 24, 2017

It would be safe to say that no public school teacher in Philadelphia has seen or heard any colleague forcing a student to face the wall and repeat the same phrase 25 or 30 times. Any principal who witnessed such an occurrence would be within his or her rights to formally reprimand that teacher.

Wall Practice:
1. After giving feedback and monitoring to the point of automaticity, have teacher(s) turn toward a wall in the room to practice the skill 10-20 more times (primarily used for multi-teacher PD sessions).
2. Frame as optimal practice because greatest number of reps can be achieved this way.

3. Emphasize the importance of every rep being executed perfectly and with exaggeration of nuances.

Incredibly, that is precisely what teachers in some district schools are being forced to do. It is but one of the tactics developed by Jounce Partners as part of its intensive coaching and professional development plan, already in use at McDaniel Elementary, one of the eleven schools designated last year as “Priority Schools”. The district has approved Jounce as a partner for principal and teacher training in schools that have been included in its “System of Great Schools”.

The district hired Cambridge Education to conduct surveys of the parents, teachers, students and community members at last year’s Priority schools. APPS members heard these stakeholders ask for more staff, return of NTAs and librarians, more counselors, smaller class size, less standardized testing and more after-school activities. We did not hear any member of any the eleven school communities ask for the removal of teachers and principals or more training for teachers. Nevertheless, the SRC approved a resolution to enter into a $70,000 contract with Jounce Partners for “Implementation of High-frequency teacher Coaching for School Transformation” at McDaniel Elementary”. That resolution, one of 142 approved by the SRC at its June 2017 Action Meeting, stated:

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Supporters of public education celebrate the demise of the School Reform Commission

SRC 11-16-17

Click on the picture to view the video of supporters of public education speaking before the SRC meeting of November 16, 2017. The SRC vote on dissolution is at the end.

Click on a timestamp to select a desired speaker. (If the timestamp does not work, move the slider at the bottom of the video to the time listed in the timestamp. It may be necessary to recheck the play button.)

Note: The SRC placed media on row 5 in the auditorium which allowed only filming speakers from the back and constant visual interruption from the audience in the first four rows. We have protested these filming conditions to no avail.

Click this picture to see the discussion and vote of the SRC to dissolve itself.

SRC demise celebration

Transcripts of testimony from APPS members in order of appearance.

Click the picture to read the transcript of Deborah Grill’s testimony.

Deborah Grill 6-16-16  pic

Click the picture to read the transcript of Lisa Haver’s testimony.


Click the picture to read the transcript of Lynda Rubin’s testimony.

Lynda Rubin

Click the picture to read the transcript of Ilene Poses’s testimony.

Ilene Poses SRC pic 5

Click the picture to read the transcript of Karel Kilimnik’s testimony.

Karel Kilimnic SRC 1-21-16


Click the picture to read the transcript of Barbara Dowdall’s testimony.


Click the picture to read the transcript of Diane Payne’s testimony.

diane payne src 8-17-17

Eyes on the SRC: November 16, 2017

SRC May 18

by Karel Kilimnik

 We Did It!

 On Thursday, November 2, Mayor James Kenney gave an address in City Council chambers in which he asked Council to support his decision to call for an end to the SRC. The response was overwhelming approval. Council Education Committee Chair Jannie Blackwell introduced a bill to place a referendum on the May 2018 ballot to amend the City Charter so that, for the first time, Council would have approval power over the Mayor’s choices for a 9-member school board.

APPS members have attended every School Reform Commission meeting for the last five years, including special meetings, emergency meetings and Policy Committee meetings. Some of us have attended since the first meeting of the state-imposed board in 2001. No one is happier than we are to witness the dissolution of the SRC and a return to local control. But let’s keep our eyes on the ball and examine the realities behind it.

APPS has documented the devastation wrought by the unelected, unaccountable SRC for the past five years: the rampant privatization of services and staffing; the attempted cancellation of the PFT contract; the outsourcing of Professional Development, transportation services, and Special Ed programs; the forcing out of teachers in schools deemed to be “underperforming”; the annual charter expansion while evidence of that model’s failure mounts; the permanent closure of almost thirty neighborhood schools. We have called out more than one Commissioner for conflicts of interest. The list goes on.

One year ago, several community groups and unions including APPS, POWER, NAACP, Parents United for Public Education, Reclaim Philadelphia, the WE caucus of the PFT, the 215 People’s Alliance, Media Mobilizing Project and a number of local unions formed the Our Cities, Our Schools Coalition (OCOS), calling for a return to local control. OCOS organized several rallies at City Hall and district headquarters at which City Council members and community leaders spoke. OCOS held a public forum to discuss the issue (all SRC commissioners were invited; none attended). OCOS collected thousands of signatures online calling for an end to the SRC.

Mayor Kenney campaigned two years ago on a promise to return the district to local control, but flipped after he took office. He said repeatedly that it wasn’t the right time, and claimed that the district would lose funding from Harrisburg if we gave up state control. OCOS kept up the pressure on the Mayor for a year—calling his office, challenging him at neighborhood town halls, and writing commentaries in local newspapers. Contrary to the story line in recent articles and editorials in the local media, the Mayor did not wake up one day and decide to end the SRC. Resolution SRC-3 is the culmination of strong grass-roots organizing. It is the first step on the path to creating an elected school board in Philadelphia. We applaud Mayor Kenney’s decision to accede to the will of the people. But the battle for true community control is far from over.

Click here to read the full Resolution Summary for the November 16th SRC meeting.

Local Universities Enable SRC Agenda

November’s resolutions reflect the growing influence of local universities in district business. Resolution B-5 accepts “the donation of services and resources” from Temple University for “Transforming School L.I.F.E. (Leadership, Instruction, and Family Engagement) for English Learners” resurfaces . This $2.7 million grant from the federal government appeared in the October Resolution List for approval, but had to be postponed due to the absence of Commissioner Bill Green. Commissioners McGinley and Wilkerson had to abstain as they are both employed by Temple. Will Commissioner Green be absent again (as he has been for all or most of five meetings this year) and delay the vote again? If this grant went directly to the district, this problem would not exist.

Drexel University’s role continues to expand with Resolutions A-12 Categorical/Grant Fund: $250,000 Ratification of Grant Acceptance from the Promise of Strong Partnership for Education Reform; and Resolutions B-3 and B-4 for the newest SLA addition –SLAMS. Last year, Drexel was authorized to administer a $6 million federal grant in the Mantua Empowerment Zone. This Zone seems to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone created by Geoffrey Canada in NYC. At one point, the fifth grade scores in his charter school were so low that Canada simply removed the entire fifth grade class. When outside organizations, even universities, become “partners”, they make these kinds of decisions, not district stakeholders.

More Outsourcing

Resolution A-14 continues the trend of outsourcing services formerly performed by district employees to out-of-state vendors: providing professional development, decreasing truancy, and funding staff positions. Dr Hite is a graduate of the non-accredited Broad Superintendents Academy, which advances an ideology of outsourcing, privatization, and union-busting.

Please keep in mind that both Dr Hite and Mayor Kenney have said they intend to close two neighborhood schools per year for at least the next five years. School closing announcements are usually made around this time in the school year; perhaps the news of the SRC dissolution will push it back a month or two. Dr Hite will also be disclosing his decision on the fate of the six Priority/SGS Schools in February. New charter school applications submitted in the next month will be voted on by the SRC in February 2018. The next few months will be turbulent ones—stay tuned.

What If…?

…the Hite administration took the $522, 582 earmarked here for private vendors and spent it on bring back 20 Parent Ombudsmen? Or NTAs? Parents at Priority schools meetings have said that providing these services would provide an invaluable service to the children at those schools.

Resolutions of Note

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