Eyes on the SRC: October 19, 2017


by Karel Kilimnik

As we contemplate this new round of increasingly familiar resolutions, several things stand out.  One is the continued funding of vendors of questionable quality to provide professional development, even after the recently approved PFT contract was characterized as “fiscally irresponsible” by members of the SRC.  Another is the need for a fair and equitable funding formula so that schools do not have to rely on the largesse of foundations, non-profits, and universities to provide necessary resources and fund programs of their choosing. The voices of the district’s true stakeholders—students, educators, parents, community members—are diminished by those of private entities who have no obligation to be transparent or accountable to the public. Public schools are not charities.  They must be supported by public money.

October’s resolutions demonstrate the growing influence of both Drexel and Temple universities in the district’s business. Two of the five SRC commissioners are employed by Temple. Temple was awarded a $70, 000 contract by the SRC to facilitate the community outreach component of Dr. Hite’s latest Priority Schools process currently underway. Temple has also acquired a $2.7 million dollar federal grant dealing with ELLs (B1) as well as managing a Music Education Project (B5). Drexel expands its involvement with the Powel School (A6) that raises the question of resources allocated within a certain zip code. The “Hunger Games” continue as schools scramble for resources that should be mandated and supported by the district. More professional development money lines the pockets of vendors such as Carnegie Learning (B16), again reinforcing the message that the problem is ineffective teaching and not the dearth of resources provided to struggling schools.

 What If…?

The 3.5 million raised by the Fund of the Philadelphia School District was used to bring back Certified Librarians instead of “classroom libraries”.  A Certified School Librarian works with every child in a school, not just students who have classroom libraries. They get to know the child over a period of years and guide students with research skills, a wide array of books both fiction and non-fiction, and developing an analytical perspective. 

Next SRC meetings: Thursday October 19 at 4:30 PM; Thursday November 16 at 4:30 PM.  Call 215 400 4180 by 3p.m. the day before in order to register to speak.  Please consider attending even if you are not speaking.

Click here to read the entire post.

Ears on the SRC: September 14, 2017


by Diane Payne
September 25, 2017

Chair Joyce Wilkerson and Commissioners Farah Jimenez, Chris McGinley and Estelle Richman were present for the entire meeting.  Commissioner Green was absent for the first two hours; he arrived at 6:45 for a meeting that started at 4:30, without explanation, when there were four speakers left. Green was absent during the testimony of forty-two speakers,  Superintendent Hite’s remarks,  the Policy Committee report from Dr. McGinley, and the presentation from Student Services Director Karen Lynch on the school selection process. He did, however, vote on all of the resolutions.

Before the vote on resolutions, APPS’ Lisa Haver stood and approached the front table, asking Chair Wilkerson:  Can you please read the rules concerning Commissioners voting after missing most of the meeting?  How can Commissioner Green miss the entire proceeding, arrive at the conclusion of the meeting, and be allowed to vote?  Although those questions were addressed to the Chair,  Green asked Miles Shore, Interim Chief of the district’s Office of General Counsel, to cite the rules about when Commissioners can vote on resolutions.  Shore stated that since Green was present he was entitled to vote.  Shore did not cite any policy number when giving this opinion.

Green also missed most of the SRC Action Meetings on April 20 and May 1 of this year.  He did not hear the majority of the public speakers, the staff presentations or Superintendent Hite’s remarks–yet he still voted.  As Haver said, Green personifies the SRC’s disregard for the public they are entrusted to serve. Green missed most of the April 27 2017 and May 1 2017 meetings also.

APPS again calls on Chair Wilkerson to address this issue. (See timestamp 1:58:00 in this link.) If Green cannot serve in a responsible manner, he should resign.

Sixteen members of APPS were present for this meeting; fourteen testified.

[To view their testimony, please go to APPSphilly.net.]

Our City Our Schools: SRC Must Go

Click here to read the rest of the post.

Lisa Haver has a column in the Daily News saying billionaires are gaining too much influence on public education.

billionaire know it all trying to destroy publiuc schools 2

Billionaires gaining too much influence on public education | Philadelphia Daily News

When President Trump nominated Betsy DeVos, a woman with no degree or experience in education, as U.S. Secretary of Education, defenders of public education organized an unprecedented effort to fight her confirmation. Unfortunately, her stunning display of ignorance about education and the rights of public school students was not enough to stop the Senate from confirming her.  But we now know who DeVos is and what her agenda is: advancing the privatization of public education under the guise of  “choice.”  She is a government official, accountable to the American people. We can call our elected officials when she fails to uphold the rights of all schoolchildren.

But whom can we call to stop Priscilla Chan from imposing her will on public education?  Or Laurene Jobs?

Priscilla Chan is a physcian and wife of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, now the world’s fifth wealthiest person. Laurene Jobs is the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and the world’s fourth wealthiest woman. Neither has a degree in education or any experience teaching in public schools, but both have embarked on massive projects to impose their ideological visions of education on schoolchildren across the country.

The recently established Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is funding the development and distribution of software that would create an online profile of each student’s “strengths, needs, motivations, and progress” and may, according to a June Education Week article, “help teachers better recognize and respond to each student’s academic needs while also supporting a holistic approach to nurturing children’s social, emotional and physical development.” That’s a tall order for two young people with no background in child development or education—unless you count Zuckerberg’s foray into education reform in Newark in 2014, when his $100 million grant enabled Gov. Christie’s disastrous privatization scheme. Zuckerberg, who has never lived in Newark, later told a reporter he “learned a lot of lessons from that.”

Meanwhile, CZI is investing in lobbying for legislation that would enable the imposition of this unproven program in schools and districts across the country in the same way the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation successfully lobbied for the use of Common Core standards in all 50 states before they had been tested in a pilot program.

Laurene Jobs graduated with a degree in economics from Penn, ran a natural foods company and worked for three years at Goldman Sachs as a trading strategist before marrying Steve Jobs. None of that qualifies her to even teach in a public school, but her massive wealth apparently makes her an expert in the history and curriculum of public education, as well as child development and pedagogy. Recently, Jobs and her XQ Institute bought an hour on the four major TV networks to simulcast a star-studded (but not educator-studded) extravanganza  to hawk her plan to “reimagine” the country’s high schools — mostly by using more technology.  Has Jobs found some research that shows teenagers need to spend more time looking at electronic devices?  When you run a technology company, not surprisingly, the answer to everything, including the things you know nothing about, is more technology.

Over the past 20 years, education policy has increasingly been enacted not to satisfy the needs of the students and their families, but the wants of the wealthy and powerful who are converting public education from a civic enterprise to a marketplace for edu-vendors: the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has paid to expand charters and lobby for the use of Common Core standards in all 50 states; real estate and insurance mogul Eli Broad now leads a group of corporate funders pushing a plan to move half of all K-12 students in Los Angeles into charter schools; the Walton family has initiated a new $1 billion campaign to promote charters nationwide; Trump financier Carl Icahn has established a chain of charters in New York City.

No one elected these billionaires, and they are accountable to no one.  We can’t call our members of Congress to object to their policies. While Americans continue to condemn the power of the very rich to influence elections, we must also fight to stop them from having more influence over the future of our young people than the constituents of democratically elected school boards.

Also see:
Be Like Lisa | Save Maine Schools 
September 18, 2017

Supporters of public education testify before the SRC at the September 14th meeting


Click on the above picture to view the testimony of speakers at the September 14, 2017 meeting of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. Click on the timestamps (the numbers at the end of each name) to view specific speakers at the meeting.

Note: The problem with the camera angle and interruptions in the field of view are due to placement of the camera. The SRC has confined our camera to a “press box” which is located in the middle of the audience thus the quality of the video.

Note: The video will not load using Firefox.

These are the transcripts of some APPS members’ testimony at the SRC meeting in order of their appearance.

Click here to read Debbie Grill’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Lynda Rubin’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Ilene Poses’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Lisa Haver’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Alison McDowell’s SRC testimony transcript posted on her Wrench in the Gears blog.

Click here to read Diane Payne’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Barbara Dowdall’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Karel Kilimnik’s SRC testimony transcript.