In 2015, APPS published research reports on the Philadelphia School Partnership in which we looked at board members, donors and political supporters.In the past five years, PSP’s influence has grown along with the organization’s programs. The School District of Philadelphia has accepted millions more in grants, along with the mandates and ideological directions that come with those funds.
White Suburbanites Make Funding Decisions about City’s Schools
When examining PSP’s outsized influence over District policies and practices, including targeted funding of certain schools, we begin with the handful of people making those decisions as PSP board members. PSP has insinuated itself into the District’s operations in a number of ways, including family communication and engagement, teacher recruitment, and training of educators and school administrators. PSP’s Board makes decisions about public schools in meetings that are closed to the public. Thus, the voices of public school families and the larger community are diminished. Until recently, PSP had eight board members, all of whom are white, six of whom live outside the city: Chair Michael G. O’Neill, Bill Marx, William McNabb III, Evie W. McNiff, Megan Maguire Nicoletti, Benjamin Persofsky, Kevin Shafer, and Janine Yass. In April 2020, PSP added two members: Colin Kelton, who is white and resides outside of the city, has worked in finance for 30 years at Vanguard. Sean Vereen, an African-American man who resides in the city, has some education background through Stepping Stone, Inc. Neither Vereen nor Kelton have any experience in classroom teaching. PSP’s Board now consists of ten members, nine white and one African-American; seven of whom reside outside of the city. In 2018, Mayor Kenney appointed Vereen to the Nominating Panel convened for the purpose of selecting Board of Education members.