Public Must Be Included in Facilities Planning

Ears on the Board of Education: November 17, 2022

by Diane Payne

A Philadelphia Inquirer article published the day before this meeting told of the crisis at Dobbins High School and the ongoing danger to both students and staff.  To longtime observers, it came as no surprise that Superintendent Tony Watlington, Sr., in his opening remarks, made no attempt to address the charges of administrative failure leveled by Dobbins parents, nor did any Board member ask him to address the safety issues raised in the article. Not a word was heard until  Dobbins’ parent Antoine Little  testified and demanded action.  Like his predecessor, Watlington responded by asking a district staffer to speak to the parent outside rather than address the issue openly.

Ironically, the Guardrail discussed at this meeting was Guardrail 1, Safe and Supportive School Environment.  Once again, the Board opted to hash out obscure data rather than deal with the lived reality of the students and staff at Dobbins.

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School District of Philadelphia Board of Education Action Meeting, October 20, 2022 Testimonies

Click to view testimony.

Bilingual Counseling Assistants (BCAs), Cellphones in Class
by Dr. Cheri Micheau

We Are Not Customers by Diane Payne

School Libraries and Librarians–Help Children Learn and Cope
by Lynda Rubin

RE: Action Item 12–Middle States Accreditation by Barbara Dowdall

All SDP Students Deserve a Certified Teacher Librarian by Deborah Grill

Philly Needs More School Librarians sung by Ilene Poses

Transition Team Offers Familiar Promises

Ears on the Board of Education: October 20, 2022

by Diane Payne

The Transition Team appointed by Superintendent Tony Watlington and the consulting firm of Shawn Joseph and Associates presented its findings, compiled in a 29-page, multi-color pamphlet. Some of Watlington’s actions during his heralded “First 100 Days”  have raised concerns rather than hope for many, especially his failure to embrace a plan rooted in education research of the whole child in favor of retaining the status quo of privatization, outsourcing and standardized testing. Most jarring is Watlington’s demotion of parents and community members from that of stakeholders in the common good of public education to “customers”.  Watlington has even created a new administrative position, “Chief of Communications and Customer Service”; he hired Alexandra Coppadge to fill it.  This disrespectful action reveals Watlington’s lack of understanding of the role of parents, educators, students and community members as members of school communities advocating for safe and healthy schools; he sees them as consumers buying a product, which relegates educators to the status of store managers and students to commodities.

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Board of Education: Tear Down this Wall!

The public is restricted to sitting behind rows of tables set up for Assistant Superintendents and Department heads from the administration building. This is what the attending public sees .

“I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.”  James Baldwin

Never has a quote been more fitting than with the Philadelphia Board of Education and its new administration. Superintendent Tony Watlington, Sr. comes out of the gate reinstituting the odious practice of leveling–now rebranded as “Enrollment-Driven Resource Review”. Classes that have already established their routines and built relationships over the past month will be turned upside down. The district will again target classrooms that have not reached maximum enrollment allowed under the PFT contract, as if that were a problem to be corrected instead of a more nurturing learning environment.   Classes will be collapsed and students will be dispersed to start all over with another teacher and new group of students. Why does the district do this?  To save money.  Not one board member responded to any of the students or parents who testified against it, nor did they raise it at any time during the 5 ½ hour meeting.  The maximum number of students in grades K-3 is 30; in grades 4 through 12 it is 33. Students in the more affluent districts around Philadelphia, where class size is nowhere near that of Philadelphia, don’t have to endure the disruption of leveling. 

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