APPS Calls on Board to Resume Superintendent Search

For immediate release:  March 14, 2022

APPS members attended many of the recent meetings held by the Board of Education for the purpose of finding a new superintendent.  We heard parents, educators, students and community members express their desire for a superintendent to take the school district in a different direction. No matter their individual concern—healthy buildings, curriculum, high school admissions process, return of school librarians, more support staff—the people overall want a superintendent who will not continue with the failed policies of the past ten years. 

We heard no one ask for a superintendent who would continue the failed reform policies that have brought excessive standardized testing and dehumanizing data-driven curricula, with students’ instruction interrupted by over-testing. We did not hear anyone ask for more privatization of neighborhood schools. We did not hear anyone ask for a superintendent who would not acknowledge the authority of the Board of Education as the governing body of the district. 

The experience and affiliations of the Board’s nominees signal a continuation of the failed policies of this administration. The Board should resume its search until it finds a candidate who reflects the community’s wishes and concerns.

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Waiting for a new superintendent is the wrong approach to fixing Philly schools | Opinion

Photo credit: Tyger Williams, Philadelphia Inquirer

The following commentary was written by APPS co-founder Lisa Haver and published by The Inquirer on March 8, 2022.

The Philadelphia Board of Education is winding down its search for a new superintendent as the 10-year tenure of Superintendent William Hite nears its end. The people of Philadelphia, naturally, are pinning their hopes on the promise of new leadership at the School District. But we face a dearth of leadership right now.

In meetings over the past few months, parents, students, educators, and community members have told the Board what the priorities of the next administration must be: safe school buildings free of lead and asbestos; more counselors and behavior specialists to help students traumatized by gun violence and poverty; equitable funding and resources for all District schools; more support for teachers and staff in the aftermath of COVID-19; a fair high school admissions process.

But the next superintendent won’t take over until next August. Those who teach and learn in public schools should not have to wait another six months for safe and healthy schools and for more equitable resources.

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The Board Should Withdraw Action Item 4: KIPP Amendment Proposal

April 20, 2021

Dear President Wilkerson and Board Members of the Board, 

We are writing in reference to Item 4 on the April 22 2021 Action Item agenda, the amendment request from KIPP charter schools. KIPP is requesting numerous changes, including name, location, grade and enrollment expansion, recruitment area expansion, and the official beginning and end dates for the 5-year term of “KIPP Parkside Charter School”. There are a number of inconsistencies in the Item’s description along with a number of issues that should be addressed before the Board considers this Item. 

First, the District’s webpage lists no KIPP Parkside Charter School.  There is a KIPP West Philadelphia and a KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory. The address of the first is 5070 Parkside, so we assume that the Item refers to that school. 

The District website lists KIPP West Philadelphia Charter as a K-3 schools. However, the 2017 SRC resolution linked in Item 4 states that this school would not include Grade 3 until the 2021-22 school year.  When was KIPP granted an amendment for grade expansion after its initial approval? 

The SRC resolution also indicates that “KIPP Parkside…shall not open until the 2019-20 school year.”  Why would a school in its second year of operation need to move?  KIPP’s operators told the SRC that the Parkside community needed a KIPP charter school.  Item 4 gives no explanation of why KIPP’s operators changed their mind so quickly or whether they had actually intended to stay in that community. 

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City Council and Mayor Kenney Must Direct Board to Rescind Regressive Speaker Policies

This week, APPS sent the following letters regarding the Board of Education’s speaker policy to mayor Kenney and each member of Philadelphia City Council:

April 14, 2021  

Dear Councilmember,   

On behalf of the members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, we are writing to ask that you take a stand against the Board of Education’s silencing of the public at its public meetings.  

Over the past three months, the Board has imposed a succession of changes in their official speaker policy designed to silence their critics. The Board has, for the first time in District history, implemented an arbitrary cap of thirty adult speakers and ten student speakers.  No matter how many official items are on the agenda, or which urgent issues arise—closing of schools for lead and asbestos toxicity, reopening schools during the COVID crisis, for example—the number of speakers will remain capped, preventing members of the public from being heard.

  The Board has also imposed a two-minute limit on all speakers. No other governmental body, including City Council, cuts speakers off after two minutes. This new policy makes it difficult to present a coherent argument for or against any official item.  It also reduces the number of issues any one speaker can address.    

The Board has also made it more difficult for people to submit written testimony and to have that testimony heard during Board meetings.

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