Board Must Reverse Regressive Speaker Policies

Testimony of Lisa Haver to the BOE, February 25, 2021

Members of APPS who released analyses of the new charter applications are asking all defenders of public education to testify at next week’s March 4 hearing.
Another way to silence people is to give them information too late to do anything about. The presentation on the 5 new charter applications won’t be until next week, just minutes before the vote. If the Board had presented that information tonight, more people would know about the danger to public schools and speak out.

If all Board members read the thorough evaluations released by the Charter Schools Office, no doubt all five will be denied. The applications are in no way adequate programs for our students. The District does not need, nor can we afford, any new charters. Approving even one of the applications would cost the District tens of millions of dollars over the first five years. Then of course, they would be approved no matter how substandard they are; it would take a long, expensive legal battle to revoke them.

Tonight the Board should vote no on Item 11. The families who lost public schools in 2013 know that the Facilities Master Plan lays the groundwork for closing more neighborhood schools.

The Board’s moves to silence the public in many ways is a betrayal of the public trust. It is not ok to take up most of a meeting analyzing data and making people wait hours to speak.

It is so great to finally see a strong advocate like Cecelia Thompson on the Board and in a position to take action on the many issues she has advocated for. Ms. Thompson has been a valuable advocate for parents and on issues affecting students with special needs. Fortunately, we were always able to hear her on many topics for a full three minutes. I am optimistic that Ms. Thompson will make a motion to reverse the gutting of the speaker policy and restore public trust in the Board.