Supporters of public education speak before the School Board Nominating Panel – February 26, 2018

This video is supporters of public education speaking before the School Board Nominating Committee on February 26, 2018.
Timestamps for speakers
Barbara Dowdall, APPS 0:00
Lisa Haver, APPS 2:25
Karel Kilimnik, APPS 4:17
Alan Foo, teacher 6:52
Diane Payne, APPS 9:20
Maureen DiStefano 11:20

Ears on the SRC: February 15, 2018


by Diane Payne
February 26, 2018

 All Present

All five commissioners were present for this action meeting. Eight members of APPS spoke on behalf of public education at this meeting; to view their testimony, go to

Four additional community members spoke in opposition to resolutions A-7 and B-12. Resolution A-7 proposed a $9,549,665 contract with NCS Pearson for “integrated web access. Resolution B-12 spent a whopping $10 million for various vendors providing online courses and adaptive software. (This is in addition to the $10 million the SRC set aside for blended learning last year).

There were two wonderful performances by students from Franklin Learning Center High School (FLC). Two students (piano and voice) beautifully performed the moving song, Strange Fruit, and another student gave a “Little Black Girl” spoken word performance.

SRC Staff Answers Questions

In his remarks, Dr. Hite addressed the millions going to web access and blended learning in Resolutions A-7 and B-12. He assured the audience of privacy protections and gave what some interpreted as lip service to teachers being primary to children’s education.

Teacher Vanessa Baker, in speaking against Resolutions A-7 and B-12, reported on recent events around the city in which business leaders and social impact investors have met behind closed doors–leaving out students, parents or educators– to discuss the direction of education. On January 29th, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce held a ticketed, closed-door event for members of the business community on Roadmap for Growth: Exploring Business Engagement in Philadelphia’s Schools. On February 7th, Comcast sent a busload of “Impact Investors” to Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Hite addressed Baker after her remarks to assure her that the attendees at Feltonville were only there to observe and see what is happening at the school. So, when the fox circles the henhouse during the day to see what is happening, does the farmer feel secure going to bed that night that his chicks will be safe?

Another recent exercise in exclusion of community stakeholders is that of the Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF), whose CEO is SRC Commissioner Farah Jimenez. (Yes, APPS has asked why this isn’t considered a conflict of interest, to no avail.)   Since Commissioner Jimenez has taken the helm at PEF, meetings about public education that were always open to the public have become closed-door events with preference to PEF donors. Jimenez has banned some individuals, including APPS co-founder Lisa Haver, from PEF meetings, and has refused to give any reason despite several communications with her and the PEF board. Discussions among business and nonprofits about the future of our schools now shut out the very people whose lives are most affected by them.

APPS members (and apparently some other members of the community) had submitted written questions to the SRC prior to this meeting about the ongoing approval of expenditures with no supporting evidence or explanation of their benefit. Interestingly, the staff presentations and Superintendent Hite’s remarks addressed some of these questions. Coincidence or public pressure forcing the minimum of explanation? In addition, the SRC staff provided written answers to questions which was made available to the public just prior to the meeting.

Click here to read the SRC responses to APPS and community members

Supporters of public education speak before the School Reform Commission February 22, 2018


Click on the picture above to view all videos of supporters of public education speaking before the SRC meeting of February 22, 2018.

The video concludes with the SRC discussion and vote on whether to ratify seven new charters.

Click on a timestamp in the video above to select a desired speaker.

Note: The SRC places media on row 2 in the auditorium which allowed only filming speakers from the side and frequent visual interruption from the audience. We have protested these filming conditions to no avail.

These are transcripts of some of the testimony to the SRC. Transcripts are listed in the order they were given at the SRC meeting.

Karel Kilimnik
Click the picture to read the transcript of Karel Kilimnik’s testimony.
Lynda SRC 2-22-18
Click the picture to read the transcript of Lynda Rubin’s testimony.

Diane Payne
Click the picture to read the transcript of Diane Payne’s testimony.
Amy Roat
Click the picture to read the transcript of Amy Roat’s testimony.
Alex 2
Click the picture to read the transcript of Alexandra Yagilowich’s testimony.

For reports on the charter vote see:

SRC denies six charters and approves one with conditions by Greg Windle and Dale Mezzacapa | Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Philly will get one new charter school; SRC denies 6 more by Kristen Graham and Maddie Hanna | Philadelphia Inquirer

APPS members have an Op Ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer protesting lack of transparency in Mayoral selection of a new school board

clark and kenney 2

Integrity of Philly’s new school board needs protection | Philadelphia Inquirer – February 22, 2018

by Rich Migilore and Karel Kilimnik

Unlike those in every other school district in the state, and in almost every district in the nation, we the people of Philadelphia continue to be disenfranchised in the governance of our public schools. To make matters worse, the return to local control, after the 17-year reign of the state-imposed School Reform Commission, will devolve into one-person control unless our elected officials take steps to guarantee the independence of the new school board.

 Following the mandates of the current City Charter, Mayor Kenney appointed a 13-member nominating panel, which is scheduled to hold a public meeting Monday and vote on a list of names that Kenney will draw from to select a nine-person school board. The mayor had directed the panel to hold previous meetings in executive session, effectively barring members of the public from witnessing or taking part in the process in any way.

This absolute control by the mayor can be mitigated in several ways. First, the nominating panel, under the leadership of Chair Wendell Pritchett, should have opened all of its meetings to the public. As city officials, members of the panel are obligated to obey all laws, including the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, which codifies the right of the people to witness the actions of all government officials, whether elected or appointed.

 Checks and balances must be instituted. City Council has proposed an amendment to the charter which, if approved by the voters in a referendum on the May ballot, will provide for Council confirmation of all future nominees. In addition, Council President Darrell Clarke has proposed language in the referendum to stipulate that members of the board of education can only be removed “for cause.” That is an essential provision to protect the independence and integrity of the board and should be adopted.

Kenney has voiced his opposition to the for-cause provision and wants board members to serve at the pleasure of the mayor. That is inconsistent with the principles of democracy that underpin the governance of our public school system.

Clarke explained in a response letter to Kenney that the board of education, under the Educational Home Rule Supplement to the City Charter, is a “separate and independent body” from the office of the mayor. State law makes school districts separate and distinct local educational agencies.

 Clarke is correct when he says, “The key idea here is independence: the for-cause requirement will provide some assurance that the members of the Board of Education can make independent decisions that they believe are in the best interests of our City’s children – even if the Mayor or Council disagree.” The for-cause provision protects school board members from being removed for political reasons or for speaking out in opposition to the Mayor or City Council.

Council should scrutinize every aspect of the appointment process and make every amendment necessary to protect the integrity of the democratic process. That includes the present lack of transparency and secrecy of the mayor’s nominating panel and its violations of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.

 These are all constitutional issues as well as legislative issues.  The right to procedural due process is guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Democracy matters and our state and federal constitutions cannot be nullified at the schoolhouse door.

Rich Migliore, Esq. is a former Philadelphia teacher and administrator and the author of “Whose School Is It: the Democratic Imperative for Our Schools.”

Karel Kilimnik is a retired Philadelphia early childhood educator and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. Email: