by Karel Kilimnik
Welcome to the start of the 2019-29 school year. Judging from this month’s Action Items, the welcome mat has been rolled out for the many branches of the Broad Foundation. We need to understand the history of privatization in Philadelphia to see how the unaccredited Broad Academy has been able to bring the outsourcing of services and the subsequent depletion of union membership to this and other school districts across the country.
In 2002 the District recruited businessman and politician Paul Vallas, who took the title of CEO as a statement of the change of direction toward a business model–and because he had no qualifications to take the position of superintendent. Vallas left just a few years later, leaving a $73 million deficit. Vallas opened the door for the tsunami of privatization to come, much of it carried out by administrators trained at the Broad Superintendents Academy.
In 2007, the Broad Academy created a special position for Dr. Arlene Ackerman as the first “Broad Superintendent in Residence” while she served as Superintendent of the San Francisco School District. Not long after her 2008 appointment here as Superintendent, she released her signature program, “Imagine 2014”, most of it based on a plan to have existing charters or other outside management companies take over struggling public schools. In 2009 Ackerman joined the Board of the Broad Foundation. She was forced to resign as the District’s Superintendent in 2011 after a number of controversies, the last one involving a public dispute with the mayor over full-day kindergarten. In 2012 Dr. William Hite, a 2005 graduate of the Broad Academy, was selected to succeed Ackerman. Hite’s even temperament and low-key management style, the antithesis of Ackerman’s, has made him a favorite of the city’s politicians and business leaders. On the other hand, his implementation of the Broad privatization ideology has carried on Ackerman’s legacy. Hite has downsized staff at 440 and cut support staff in schools. One of his first tasks was overseeing the closing of 24 neighborhood schools. Hite has outsourced several positions, most notably substitute teachers and other staff.
Two Items, 16 (Grant Purpose: To partially fund the salaries and benefits of three Broad Resident positions) and 17 (To partially fund the salaries and benefits of one Broad Resident position), continue this open-door policy for the Broad Foundation ideology.