Written testimony for Action Meeting, Dec 8, 2021
by Karel Kilimnik
There is nothing on the website that tells how to submit Written Testimony. Yet another institutional roadblock to Community Engagement. Instead of making it easier to find out information the Board keeps adding hurdles.
Initially there was Item 1 Acceptance of Donation from The Fund for The School District of Philadelphia and Authorization of Contract for Facilities Planning and Community Engagement with no details except Pending. Then suddenly it disappeared thus causing a rearrangement of all the other Items to reflect the numerical change in order. Suddenly on Monday it reappeared this time with $800,000 added but no other details just withdrawn. This epitomizes community engagement iby both the District and the Board which is to provide minimal information and change the Agenda at will.Both entities adhere strictly to outsourcing any community engagement whether it be Brownstone Public Relations or Accenture. It’s insulting and continues to build the distrust rampant in the District. Contracts with outside businesses build a wall between the public and the District.If there was genuine public engagement there would not be such pushback against unworkable and unrealistic plans put forth whether it entails building hazards such as asbestos or the doomed Advancing Education Safely for reopening of schools.
There are many questions raised by the Board’s search for a new superintendent. The glossy 27 page Report reflects the deep divide between reality and the Board’s yearnings as reflected in their proudly promoted Goals & Guardrails that is rammed down our throats at every Action meeting. Having attended many Listening Sessions this garish corporate document failed to include major issues raised at numerous Listening sessions such as no one affiliated with the Broad Institute and/or Superintendents Academy.
*The Job Profile was released (is this what others would call the Job Description?) on December 3rd to begin the local and national search. Where is it hidden? Definitely not on the website.
*The tab for FAQ continues to say “Coming Soon”. When will this be activated?
* Philadelphia just gained population with increases in both Latinx and Asian populations so where is Asian representation on the newly formed Search Advisory Committee?
* The only schools represented on the Search Advisory Committee are magnet schools. Where is the representation of neighborhood schools in low income communities?
*Why isn’t the Philadelphia Home & School Council on the Advisory Committee?
*The Report ignored so many things we heard consistently in the sessions we attended such as no one affiliated with any aspect of the Broad Foundation/Superintendent Academy. We need an educator not a business manager. If the Board truly wanted public engagement they would have linked notes from each session so the public could read them instead of producing an engineered report.
Will the Board answer these questions at an Action meeting or ignore them?