Board Must Fund Educators, Not Consultants

 Eyes on the Board of Education:  May 27, 2021 

 by Karel Kilimnik

“Knowledge is the prime need of the hour.”  Mary McLeod Bethune

The Board proclaims its commitment to public engagement, but its actions say otherwise.  The Board ignores letters from elected officials, public testimony and even legal action, holding fast to its speaker suppression policies. They shut down all of their monthly committees. And every month, the Board subjects the public to 1 ½ to 2 hours of data analysis aka Goals and Guardrails, always on the agenda before the registered public speakers. For three years parents, students, teachers and staff, principals, and community members have told the Board what our students need to succeed: more support staff, toxin-free buildings, smaller class size, restoration of school libraries with Certified Teacher Librarians.  How did the Board respond? Not by solving the most pressing academic and infrastructure problems, but by creating an elaborate, data-driven, test-score dependent maze. 

Many of May’s Action Item descriptions are confusing and bereft of details. The Board voted to table last month’s Item for a $6.5 million contract with Renaissance and Illuminate Education, citing a lack of information from the Administration. This month, Item 19 has been revised to include that information. It is the Board’s responsibility to demand that all official Items have the necessary details.  The SRC’s agendas had more comprehensive Resolution descriptions. The Board oversees the Administration, not the other way around.

Private entities play an ever-expanding role. The Hite Administration has contracted with KJR Consulting to provide professional development for three years. Item 17 proposes yet another contract extension for $550,000. GaileyMurrary, LLP offers brand-building (Item 20 Contract with GaileyMurray, LLP – Communications Consultant $100,000) at a time when teachers and students need more classroom supports.

Continue reading


Will Board of Education Act on Public Demands?

Special Hearing:  May 20, 2021

by Diane Payne

When District governance returned to the local Board of Education in 2018, the amended Philadelphia Home Rule Charter required the Board to hold at least two annual public hearings for the sole purpose of hearing public testimony. No voting on any official Item takes place. The Board has now held both even though the year is not yet half over.  All members of the Board, both student representatives, and Dr. Hite attended.  The Board changed the speaker rules again, allowing all who signed up to speak and allotting them three minutes. Next week, at the official Action Meeting, when the Board conducts official business, we expect the Board to reinstate its speaker suppression policy with a limited number of speakers, all cut off at two minutes. Technical problems that appeared to be outside the District’s control delayed the start of the meeting for almost half an hour. The Board added a zoom link to the website because the TV channels were not broadcasting and announced that via social media. Unfortunately, families that did not have the required technology were not able to observe or attend.

To read more, click here.