Defenders of Public Educations Speak Before the BOE, April 25, 2019

BOE

This post includes the testimony of those that spoke at both the April 25th Budget Meeting and the Action Meetings as well as the testimony of those that were unable to speak at the March Action meeting.  Click on the name to read the transcripts of each individual’s testimonies.

Eileen Duffey

Deborah Grill

Lisa Haver

Kristin Luebbert

Coleman Poses

Ilene Poses

 Lynda Rubin

Ears on the Board of Education: April 25, 2019

by Diane Payne

Last month’s March 28th Action Meeting ended abruptly when the Board left the room after a hasty vote to recess.  Sponsors and students from the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) had disrupted the meeting after the Board voted to pass a policy that mandates metal detectors in all high schools.  PSU had testified at Action and Committee meetings over the past the past three months and had met with District administrators to discuss the issue. (See APPS March 28th Ears for that report.) The Board never returned; without notice, they reconvened in another room and voted on the remaining Items there.  Thus, many public speakers did not get to give their testimony. The Board had said that those people could go first at the April Meeting, but  APPS members asked that they get their three minutes from March in addition to their three in April. Board President Joyce Wilkerson agreed to our request.  A total of 78 speakers were listed.

Present

All members of the Board were present for this meeting.  Seven members of APPS attended; six testified in defense of public education.

Prior to the start of business, the Board read a tribute to longtime education activist Marciene Mattleman, one of the founders of the After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP), who passed away in March.  Students from the various clubs who have participated in local and national competitions came with their trophies. Tributes were read by Board member Angela McIver, the current ASAP director, and Mattleman’s daughters. The importance of these non-athletic activities was later the subject of testimony by those who came to advocate for funding for their various clubs, including Chess, Scrabble, and Debate.

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Eyes on the Board of Education: April 25, 2019

by Karel Kilimnik

Board Rolls Out Red Carpet to Charter Operators

Spring has arrived along with the annual crop of charter school amendments and renewals. Renewals come due when charters’  five-year terms are up. Amendments requests–for enrollment increases, name changes, relocation–can be submitted at any time, but often at the time of renewal.  Incredibly, charter schools who have refused to sign renewal agreements have still been granted amendment requests. First, let us deal with Renewals. Presently on the Charter School Office (CSO) website is the 2018/19 cohort of 12 schools–with no active link for any school, so no way to see the renewal evaluation report.

Of the 18 schools in the 2017/18 cohort, one link is not posted ( Mathematics, Civics, and Sciences Charter School). The April 25 Meeting Agenda lists two Charter Amendments under consideration. Laboratory Charter School is requesting a change of location (Item 3). Laboratory operates one school across three separate campuses in three different neighborhoods–a K-5, a 5-8 and a K-8.  Now Laboratory wants to consolidate all three into one location in East Falls at 3300 Henry Avenue. The District’s School Profiles page gives information on the Northern Liberties campus but not the other two; our written request for explanation has gone unanswered. The CSO Mid-Cycle Charter Amendment Evaluation Report specifically cites lack of community outreach about the relocation,  yet still recommends approval of their request.  The CSO page states that the Pennsylvania Charter School Law does not require districts to consider amendments: “The Pennsylvania Charter School Law does not provide for amendments to charters, and thus the Charter Schools Office (CSO) of the District is not required to review amendment requests from charter schools.”  This may provide a legal basis for denying this request. Why is the Board in such a rush to grant this charter school’s amendment?

The Board has made several pronouncements about making community engagement a key part of its mission. It has created a District Partnership & Community  Engagement Committee along with a Parent & Community Advisory Council. It is incomprehensible that they would consider approving this Action Item while excluding the community from the process.

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Student Achievement Committee Report: April 11, 2019

by Lynda Rubin

The Board of Education denied three new charter applications in February. The question now is whether they will continue the SRC’s practice of allowing back-door charter expansion through yearly amendment requests from charters and whether they will make this an open process for full public engagement.

Present: Committee members Chris McGinley, Angela McIver, Leticia Egea-Hinton, Maria McColgan and student representative Alfredo Praticò; Committee member Mallory Fix Lopez was absent. Board President Joyce Wilkerson sat in the audience.

Dr. McIver announced that Kindergarten registration begins May 31, 2019. The Board Budget Hearing will be held on April 25, 2019, 4:00 PM in the 2nd floor auditorium prior to the regularly scheduled Action Meeting at 5:00 pm.

The minutes for the March 14, 2019 Student Achievement Committee Meeting were approved.

Click here to read the rest of the report