Defenders of Public Education Speak before the BOE, November 19, 2020

Click on the title to read the transcript of the speaker’s testimony.

School Reform Commission (SRC) Traditions, FYI by Barbara McDowdall Dowdall

The Board Must Stop Paying Lip Service to Equity by Lisa Haver

The Failed Mission of Renaissance Schools by Diane Payne

Follow the Sunshine Act by Ilene Poses

Removing Renaissance Charter Language is Dangerous to District by Lynda Rubin

Ears on the Board of Education: November 19, 2020

by Diane Payne

Board President Joyce Wilkerson opened this remote Action Meeting with praise and thanks to the University of Pennsylvania for its $100 million donation–$10 million over the next 10 years–toward the abatement of lead and asbestos in District schools.   

For years, public school advocates have fought to have Penn and other large non-profit institutions to pay at least part of their fair share of taxes on their profit-making properties through PILOTS (Payment in lieu of taxes). 

That fight has escalated as the District faces dire budget projections as a result of loss of tax revenues during the pandemic. Is there no other way for the District to pay for fixing toxic schools other than taking charity?  APPS’ recent report on Renaissance charter schools shows that the District spends hundreds of millions every year to sustain a program that has not, by any metric, been a success in improving schools.  (In just one example, the District allocated $30 million last year to Aspira, Inc. to operate two Renaissance charters–even after the Board voted not to renew after they failed to meet all standards.) Penn has a  $15 billion endowment.  Paying its full share of taxes would have Penn paying approximately $100 million per year.  Advocates have estimated that PILOTS would  produce 40% of that,  or close to $40 million per year.  The District and the media may paint Penn as generous, but the reality is they are getting off cheap.  Advocates vow to keep the pressure on Penn and the other mega nonprofits in the city to do their part and pay their fair share.

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Eyes on the Board of Education: November 19, 2020

by Karel Kilimnik

”The movement is a testament to the fact that courage is contagious.”  Opal Tometi, Black Lives Matter Organizer

The Board of Education has issued a brief agenda this month. APPS members again urge the Board to listen to teachers and parents, particularly in its compliance with the Hite administration on its proposed reopening plan. The Hite administration continues to implement corporate education practices, even more so behind the Covid Curtain.

As Covid cases surge in Philadelphia,  we see again the racial inequities inherent in our society. Unemployment, sickness and death have devastated Black and Brown communities. District leadership must be held accountable for decisions that affect those communities. Educators know that in-person learning works best for students, but the health and safety of students and staff are not negotiable. 

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Board of Education Joint Committee Meeting: November 5, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

The remote meeting of the Student Achievement and Support Committee and the Finance Committee did little to clear up the issues around building re-openings and the ventilation reports at the heart of the matter. But when “Green” does not mean “Go” but something like” possibly close to Go”, few definitive answers were heard. 

 Angela McIver, Lee Huang,  Julia Danzy, Maria McColgan, President Joyce Wilkerson attended. The Committee approved Minutes of the October 8, 2020 Joint Committee Meeting. 

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