March 6, 2016
Dear Chairwoman Neff:
The members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools call on you to halt the placement of four more neighborhood schools into the Turnaround Network. This latest plan will only lead to further destabilization of schools already struggling to survive in conditions caused by both financial and managerial crises.
Three of the four schools targeted—Roosevelt, Rhodes and Munoz-Marin—have recently undergone major transformations. Roosevelt and Rhodes were converted from middle to elementary schools. Munoz-Marin lost the majority of its staff when the district attempted to hand over management of the school to Aspira Charter Schools two years ago. The decision to place Mitchell, a school with a new principal who was praised by Dr. Hite in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer story, is truly baffling.
What is the point of inflicting more trauma on students who need the safety and guidance of teachers and staff who are working to build strong school communities?”
The teachers and staff are working under appalling conditions and are now being blamed and punished, along with the students whose relationships to them will be severed.”
Community meetings have been scheduled this week, beginning Monday, even though there has been inadequate notification of parents and community members, if any. The district has not disclosed the cost of the program, how it will be carried out, or what criteria were used to select these schools. It is difficult to understand how the district can afford any extra expense of this kind, especially since it plans to spend $15-20 million to place Cooke, Huey and Wister into the turnaround program as Renaissance schools. Dr. Hite has stated publicly that he cannot guarantee the district will not run out of money before the end of this school year.
As a former teacher and principal, you know how important it is for children to feel that school is a safe and stable environment. Instituting a plan whose essential feature is the severing of relationships between adults and students can only add to the trauma many students already live with.
We understand that the SRC is not required to vote on internal turnarounds. But the SRC is responsible for the financial and academic success of every school in the district. Recently, the SRC overruled Dr. Hite’s decision in the Wister case. The SRC should do the same in this matter.
Lisa Haver, Co-founder
Deborah Grill, Secretary
This letter to Chairwoman Neff and her response has been reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 7, 2016.