Eyes on the Board of Education: December 12, 2019

by Karel Kilimnik 

Walk down any hall at 440 and pass five senior staff members–odds are that three will be Broad Academy alums or fellows,  including Superintendent William Hite. Go to their Linkedin pages and search for any not Teach for America-trained.  Central Office staff are now all “Chiefs”–not Directors– taking a page from Jeb Bush’s  Chiefs for Change, another corporate reform lobbying group advocating the usual failed policies including uniform implementation of Common Core State Standards, using test scores to evaluate teachers, A-to-F report cards for schools, expanding charter schools, and expansion of dehumanizing online learning. The Board is poised to approve contracts for more Broad Fellows based both in Central Administration Offices and in targeted schools. Instead of rising through District administrative levels,  many are brought in from afar via TFA and TNTP.

Grants from foundations and non-profits open the door for  their anonymous board members to influence curriculum and learning across the District. The William Penn Foundation, who paid for the now infamous Boston Consulting Group plan to close neighborhood schools in 2013,  has moved into underwriting Early Childhood Education programs. The Neubauer Family Foundation, built on Aramark money, is partnering with the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) on Principal Mentoring (Item 31).  Last month, the Board approved, despite some member’s concerns, accepting a grant from Neubauer in  support of the questionable KIPP College Match Program that the District will have to pick up the tab for after the grant runs out.  These items are touted as the latest best practices but offer no solid research to support those claims. Like many Hite administration initiatives, from Redesign Schools to Renaissance Charters to the System of Great Schools,  there is little if any data to indicate success. And their shelf lives are short. Business consultants replace education experts, as in the case of Item 9 (Contract with District Management Group, LLC for Operations and Facilities Review). This contract reveals scant information, again contradicting the Board’s commitment to transparency and accountability. These contracts should be published concurrent with Board approval, thus ending the public’s having to file a Right to Know request and waiting weeks or months for the document. Educators have been relegated to the back of the room when decisions are made about spending priorities while the Board spends more on outside corporate consultants. Is this any way to run a school district?

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Defenders of Public Education Speak Before the BOE, November 21, 2019

BOE

Click on the individual’s name to read a transcript of his or her testimony.

 Kathleen Butts on Environmental Safety Plan

Peg Devine on Student Immunizations

Barbara Dowdall on Public School Dreams

Eileen Duffey on Student Immunizations

Deborah Grill on Outsourcing to Attuned Partners

Lisa Haver on Accountability and Responsibility

Daun Kauffman on Grants for STEP

Kristin Luebbert on the K-2 Suspension Ban

Tricia Malloy on Student Immunizations

Heather Marcus on the Contract with KIPP

Diane Payne on Accountability and Outsourcing

Ilene Poses on Using Local Resources

Coleen Quinn on Student Immunizations

Lynda Rubin on Outsourcing Programs ro Private Companies

 

 

Ears on the Board of Education, November 21, 2019

by Diane Payne

The eight APPS members in attendance, along with our supporters, stood and read in unison our legal objection to the Board’s ongoing violations of the PA Sunshine Act–this month the secret vote on the Boys Latin Charter School renewal.  This Board votes on all charter school issues (and only charter school issues) without providing the text of the Action Item or reading the text of the Item into the record. This is tantamount to voting in secret because the public has no information on the details on this item at the time of the vote.  President Wilkerson attempted to gavel and talk over us, thus failing to acknowledge the Board’s obligation to listen to members of the public formally objecting under Section 710(c) of the PA Sunshine Act.

About a dozen school nurses showed up to protest the mismanagement of Health Services in the District.  The eloquent and comprehensive testimonies of the nurses showed once again that Philadelphia school nurses are highly professional, credentialed, and competent.

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Policy Committee Meeting: November 14, 2019

by Lynda Rubin

 The Policy Committee reviews all School District policies, some decades old, to revise, update or eliminate any in order to reflect current needs and practices. Despite repeated requests, copies of policies on the agenda were not available to members of the public in attendance. One binder with one set of the policies under consideration was placed on the desk outside the meeting room with instructions not to remove; that is, there is no way to be in the meeting and review the policy revisions at the same time. APPS continues to ask the Board to provide copies of all meeting materials so that “public engagement” can be more than a slogan.

Present: Co-Chairs Dr. Maria McColgan and Joyce Wilkerson; Committee Members Julia Danzy, Chris McGinley, and Lee Huang. Board Leticia Egea-Hinton and Angela McIver also attended.

District Chief of Staff  Naomi Wyatt made a brief presentation listing proposed revisions to policies to be voted on by the full Board at the November 21 2019 Action Meeting.

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