Board of Education Public Hearing: September 26, 2019

by Lynda Rubin

The recently amended Philadelphia Home Rule Charter mandates that the Board of Education hold at least two public hearings each school year for the sole purpose of giving parents, students, teachers, and community members the right and opportunity to address the Board with concerns, suggestions, complaints and questions. One purpose of making these hearings part of the City Charter was to underline that the Board is a public body that needs to engage with and be responsive to the public will. The Board may not always agree with members of the public, but they do have to consider the wishes of the people as they make decisions about spending tax dollars and formulating educational policy. The city’s populace successfully fought to have the School Reform Commission replaced with a Board precisely because the SRC ignored the people’s interests and inclusion in the process of running public schools for our city’s children. That this Board is appointed by the mayor and not elected by voters in no way diminishes the fact that its members are expected to be working on behalf of the public–that is, their constituents.

In light of that, it is inexplicable that the Board did not publicized this meeting commensurate with its importance, resulting in a disappointingly under-attended meeting. Board members were informed by staff that robo-calls were made to parents, and that notice was posted on the District’s website. But this notice  required a more descriptive and inviting name than the two-word “Public Hearing” in a small box in the Board calendar, which requires several page clicks to find. As community activist Mama Gail Clouden pointed out in her testimony, students’ home and cell phone numbers are changed too often to be a reliable means of contact. At the very least, a banner with the meeting information should have been prominently placed on the Home Page of the District’s website where anyone who goes to the website for any reason will see it. The Board should explore such ideas as using PSAs (Public Service Announcements) on TV and radio stations which are often provided free as a service to public schools.

Click here to read the rest of the report

Policy Committee: September 12, 2019

By Barbara Dowdall

(Videos of all Board meetings can be viewed on the Board of Education page on the SDP website. Meeting materials, including agendas and PowerPoint presentations, can be found on the Board of Education website. The video can be watched here.

Policy Committee co-chairs Dr Maria McColgan and Joyce Wilkerson were present along with members Lee Huang, Chris McGinley, and Julia Danzy. Board member Dr. Angela McGiver also  attended.

Committee co-chair Dr. McColgan opened the meeting by noting that all items under discussion were posted in advance.

Continue reading here.

 

Ears on the Board of Education: September 19, 2019

By Diane Payne

Seven Mastery Charter Schools and KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School were voted on for renewal.  Three of these schools were from the 2015/16 school year. All Charter School negotiations are conducted out of the public view.  Unspecified conditions were originally attached to the school’s renewal by the Charter School Office (CSO) but all conditions were dropped for the renewals on this agenda.  The public has no way of knowing what those conditions were or why those unknown conditions were dropped.

Many staff, parents, and administrators spoke on the toxic conditions found in many of our school buildings advocating for a systemic fix.

Present

President Joyce Wilkerson, Vice-president Wayne Walker, Julia Danzy, Mallory Fix Lopez, Lee Huang, Maria McColgan, Angela McIver, and Chris McGinley were present.  Board member Leticia Egea-Hinton was absent. Nine members of APPS were present; five members spoke in defense of public education and one member submitted written testimony.

Video of the entire Board meeting is posted on the District website and can be found by going to the District website, clicking on Board of Education, scrolling down to “watch previous Board meetings.”

Click here to read the rest of the post

Defenders of Public Education Speak Before the BOE, September 19, 2019

BOE

Click on the individual’s name to read a transcript of his or her testimony.

Aileen Callaghan on the BOE Report Card

Barbara Dowdall on an Ideal School District

Karel Kilimnik on CSPR, Charter Renewals and Board Transparency

Dr. Cheri Micheau on Policy 138 and the Education of English Language Learners

Dr. Josh Myer on Toxic Schools

Jessica Tilli on Toxic Schools

Deborah Grill on Newsela, School Libraries and Charter Renewals

Zoe Rooney on Newsela Digital Library and Spending Priorities

Lynda Rubin on Charter Renewals

Letter Presented to the Board on Student Voter Education and Engagement