For immediate release November 2, 2017
Members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools celebrate the impending dissolution of the School Reform Commission. We thank Mayor Kenney and Council President Clarke for their leadership in bringing this state-imposed body to an end. State control of our schools has brought devastation to this city: precious funds have been diverted to non-public schools and over 30 neighborhoods have seen their schools closed permanently.
Since 2012, APPS members have attended every session of the SRC, including special meetings and Policy Committee meetings. We have spent those five years fighting and organizing against the reckless spending, lack of transparency and disregard for the public exhibited by the many iterations of the SRC. In 2014, APPS sued then-Chair Bill Green and the SRC in federal court for violating the public’s First Amendment rights when Green ordered the police to confiscate signs from members of the public—and won. The following year, we filed suit in Commonwealth Court to stop the SRC’s continual violations of the PA Sunshine Act. Our settlement resulted in significant changes in SRC policy, including posting the resolutions to be voted on two weeks before the meeting instead of only 72 hours, and allowing the public to speak on resolutions posted just before or during the meeting.
We now have a unique opportunity to end the disenfranchisement of the people of Philadelphia. The stakeholders in our public school system—that is, every person who benefits from a thriving public school system—should have the same rights as those in every other district in the commonwealth to elect the officials who will be entrusted to represent them in matters of school governance.
The dissolution of the SRC is not contingent on changing the City Charter. The Charter now provides for mayoral control, as it did before SRC. The Mayor can select an interim school board for a year, during which time the city should hold community forums, as it is presently doing for the Rebuild initiative, to hear from the people whose voices were shut out during the reign of the SRC about how best to create a truly representative body for the critical task of educating our children.
Trading in one unelected, unaccountable board for another is not a progressive solution to the problems facing the district.