by Karel Kilimnik
Spring is here, and as more people become vaccinated, we begin to see a light at the end of the quarantine tunnel. Unfortunately, the light of public engagement has been increasingly dimmed by the Board of Education and their ever-changing rules for public speakers, which only erodes trust in the Board and the District. Philadelphia is the birthplace of Democracy, and public education is the foundation of a democratic society. This incremental silencing of community voices represents a failure of leadership by Mayor Kenney, the Board members chosen by him, and Superintendent Hite. The 133 students, parents, teachers, principals, and community members who signed up to speak at the special March 18 meeting proved the need for the Board to lift all constraints on public speakers. The Board must reverse its regressive speaker policies.
This agenda is like a closet full of empty suits: cryptic descriptions devoid of information; new and extended contracts to vendors in line for their next helping at the education buffet; the growing legal firms slush fund. Will the Board ever halt this diversion of public money to private vendors? We need leadership determined to rebuild the staff and resources lost from Dr. Hite’s devastating 2013 Doomsday Budget.
The March Action meeting agenda devotes another mega-block of time to Goals & Guardrails™, the glossy scheme designed by people unfamiliar with education and pedagogy. It reflects a slick attempt to codify education and boil it down to testing results with data as the driver, not the real needs of Philadelphia’s students.
Educator and blogger Peter Greene writes: “Education has been overrun by the Cult of Data….Data is not magic, and educators should not bow at the data altar.”