SGS Findings and Feedback Meetings: November 2018


By Lisa Haver

Public meetings for the three SGS schools have concluded. Six meetings were held at each of the three schools—Harrington, Lamberton and Locke.  Four of those meetings—the parent/community focus groups—were not informational meetings. They were facilitated by Temple University professors and graduate students for the purpose of finding out what members of each school community felt were the schools’ strengths and weaknesses and what additional resources the schools needed in order to improve student performance. An initial informational meeting was held where District staff narrated a power-point presentation and answered audience questions.

The sixth and final public meeting was held in order to present “Findings and Feedback”.  Although the report refers to its findings as “data”, the report includes mostly anecdotal information gathered from 15-minute classroom visits and answers to questions posed to students during those visits.

For the first time in the process, meeting participants heard about a “planning committee” which would review the reports and make recommendations about which option should be imposed upon the school. Conflicting information was given about who would serve on the committee and whether it would be only District administrators or would also include any community members or teachers.

Chief of Schools Shawn Bird presented the SGS Findings and Feedback report to the  Board’s Student Achievement and Support Committee at its December 7 meeting. Committee members Angela McIver and Julia Danzy both asked Bird to clarify this statement from the report:

“Not all instruction was aligned to grade level expectations.”

McIver said that because these schools are struggling, we would not assume that all children are learning on grade level. (Of course, it is a fact that not all children are learning in the same way at the same time at any school.)  Committee member Julia Danzy also asked what “grade level” applied to–the student or the instructor?  Bird replied that the statement about grade level was based on “what the student is doing”, even though the report says “instruction”, not “understanding”.

Mallory Fix Lopez told Bird that she attended the Harrington meeting and that it was not clear to her that the community knew what the potential recommendations were.  It was good to hear a Board member come to the same conclusion we have: that the District did not provide the parents and community members at any of the three schools with sufficient information about the possible options, how they would be decided on and by whom, or whether teachers and staff would have to reapply for their positions.

The final decision for all three schools will be made by Dr. Hite and announced in late January or early February.  We will then see whether the concerns and wishes of the school communities align with the options chosen.

Click on the links below to read the Feedback and Findings report for each school:

Harrington Elementary School

Lamberton Elementary School

Locke Elementary School

Will District Listen to Parents and Community for Solutions at SGS Schools?

by Lisa Haver

For the third consecutive year, the Hite administration has placed several neighborhood schools into its “System of Great Schools” (SGS), to be redesigned according to a set of apparently predetermined outcomes.  The District once again went through the motions of providing community engagement in a series of poorly designed parent focus groups. These featured the simplistic questions asked of participants and the lack of informed District personnel to provide information or answer relevant questions about possible outcomes.

Although millions will be spent, the fate of three schools will be determined, and the future of the children and staff at the schools may change significantly, there has been no press coverage.

APPS members have attended 15 of the 16 focus group meetings at Locke, Harrington and Lamberton, all elementary schools in West Philadelphia. [See links to the individual reports below.] APPS members also attended all three of the SGS kickoff meetings. Despite pronouncements from District officials about changes this year as a result of “lessons learned”, the process so far has been a replication of the last two:  the same rationale, the same power-point presentation, the same misrepresentation of the process and possible outcomes. What remains to be seen: whether there will be the same disregard for the stated wishes of the parents and community members. Unfortunately, none of the members of the Board of Education came to any of the 15 meetings. Although they might see the reports, they did not hear firsthand from parents and community members.

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Ears on the SRC: June 21, 2018


by Diane Payne

 1:00 PM Action Meeting:  Charters

 Present for Final SRC Meeting

How fitting that the SRC ended on the Summer Solstice, which many cultures celebrate with festivals and rituals. Philadelphians now celebrate the sunset of the SRC.  This state-imposed governance operated outside the democratic system with little interference from elected officials or objections from the media.  But we as Philadelphians must insure that the incoming appointed school board remains transparent and accountable to the public. Full democratic voice will not be restored until disenfranchisement ends and Philadelphians vote for its school board–just as all other 499 school districts in Pennsylvania do.

 A special meeting of the SRC was held at 1:00 p.m. to consider and vote on charter school issues and the regular Action Meeting was held at the normal time of 4:30 p.m.  All four SRC Commissioners were present for both meetings.  Seven members of APPS were present; four members testified on behalf of public education at the 1:00 p.m. meeting.  Nine members of APPS were present and five APPS members spoke in defense of public education at the 4:30 p.m. meeting.  (The SRC will reconvene next Thursday, June 28th,  only to approve the minutes for the official record.)

 There was a large and vocal group of parents from Mayfair Elementary demanding safe conditions for their kindergarten and first grade students, along with another vocal and persistent contingent from Strawberry Mansion High School (SMHS) fighting for their school’s survival. (Details about both struggles follow.)

 Charter School Onslaught

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Defenders of public education speak before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission June 21,2018

SRC 5-24-18

Click on the picture to view the testimony of defenders of public education.

SM KnightsClick here to view the testimony and read the transcripts of supporters of Strawberry Mansion High school.




Click here to view the testimony and read the transcripts of supporters of Mayfair School.

Transcripts of APPS members testimony before the SRC.
Transcripts are in the order of appearance at the meeting.

Diane Payne SRC 6-21-18

Click Diane Payne’s picture to read the transcript of her testimony before the SRC.

Ilene 6-21-18

Click Ilene Poses picture to read the transcript of her testimony before the SRC.

Lynda 6-21-18

Click Lynda Rubin’s picture to read the transcript of her testimony before the SRC.

Lisa Haver 6-21-18

Click Lisa Haver’s picture to read the transcript of her testimony before the SRC.

Barbara Dowdall SRC 6-21-18

Click Barbara Dowdall’s picture to read the transcript of her testimony before the SRC.

Karel Kilimnik SRC 6-21-18

Click Karel Kilimnik’s picture to read the transcript of her testimony before the SRC.