Principals and Community Rally to Stop “Budget Massacre”

Ears on the Board of Education: March 24, 2022

by

Diane Payne

The District principals’ union Teamsters 502 CASA, supported by the PFT, POWER, APPS and other member organizations of OCOS, held a rally on the steps of 440 to tell the Board of Education, as it convened its action meeting, that we will fight against the District’s proposed budget cuts for next school year. That same message was delivered by those who waited for hours to testify, including principals, teachers, and parents. As we have seen in the past, the administration’s budget presentation did not align with the reality of the educators whose resources will be slashed. 

It is heartening to see the increasing number of community members attending in person. There is no better way to hold our  government officials accountable than to show up to cheer, jeer, hold signs, and clap in support of our public schools.  The Board has used the pandemic to elude accountability and increase speaker suppression. Voters in 499 districts in Pennsylvania elect their school board but Philadelphians remain disenfranchised.  APPS members will continue to attend in person, and we  encourage all defenders of public education to join us. 

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APPS Calls on Board to Resume Superintendent Search

For immediate release:  March 14, 2022

APPS members attended many of the recent meetings held by the Board of Education for the purpose of finding a new superintendent.  We heard parents, educators, students and community members express their desire for a superintendent to take the school district in a different direction. No matter their individual concern—healthy buildings, curriculum, high school admissions process, return of school librarians, more support staff—the people overall want a superintendent who will not continue with the failed policies of the past ten years. 

We heard no one ask for a superintendent who would continue the failed reform policies that have brought excessive standardized testing and dehumanizing data-driven curricula, with students’ instruction interrupted by over-testing. We did not hear anyone ask for more privatization of neighborhood schools. We did not hear anyone ask for a superintendent who would not acknowledge the authority of the Board of Education as the governing body of the district. 

The experience and affiliations of the Board’s nominees signal a continuation of the failed policies of this administration. The Board should resume its search until it finds a candidate who reflects the community’s wishes and concerns.

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Waiting for a new superintendent is the wrong approach to fixing Philly schools | Opinion

Photo credit: Tyger Williams, Philadelphia Inquirer

The following commentary was written by APPS co-founder Lisa Haver and published by The Inquirer on March 8, 2022.

The Philadelphia Board of Education is winding down its search for a new superintendent as the 10-year tenure of Superintendent William Hite nears its end. The people of Philadelphia, naturally, are pinning their hopes on the promise of new leadership at the School District. But we face a dearth of leadership right now.

In meetings over the past few months, parents, students, educators, and community members have told the Board what the priorities of the next administration must be: safe school buildings free of lead and asbestos; more counselors and behavior specialists to help students traumatized by gun violence and poverty; equitable funding and resources for all District schools; more support for teachers and staff in the aftermath of COVID-19; a fair high school admissions process.

But the next superintendent won’t take over until next August. Those who teach and learn in public schools should not have to wait another six months for safe and healthy schools and for more equitable resources.

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Board Members Must Be Fully Present

Ears on the Board of Education: February 24, 2022

by Diane Payne

APPS members and others, both in person and via written testimony, objected to the Board’s plan to hold small in-person meetings for a select few to meet the next superintendent finalists. Before the public speakers had finished, Vice President Leticia Egea-Hinton, who is spearheading the search process, stated on the record that those raising objections were wrong. Her rationale was that this meeting would be live streamed and they were holding a hybrid town hall open to the public.  APPS members in the auditorium spoke up to say that holding one public meeting doesn’t erase the fact that the meeting in question was only open to a certain number of people, chosen in a private process, and that the qualifications for admission ruled out any community member.  Egea-Hinton’s defensive response was not an honest effort to try to understand the objections, just to rationalize the Board’s actions. None of the other Board members objected to holding a select meeting to meet the candidates.  
The Philadelphia community is shut out on almost every front. We are the only District in the Commonwealth that doesn’t have an elected school board. One person–the current mayor–selects Board members in a secret process not open to the public. The Board shuts down its committees and imposes speaker suppression. If the Board is going to claim that the superintendent search process includes public participation, that must be more than window-dressing. APPS calls on the Board to make both town halls open to the public. Do not bar anyone from attending. Take steps to insure cross representation of stakeholders and let the public have both in-person and hybrid options for attending both open townhalls.

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