Ears on the SRC: September 14, 2017

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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 previous 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

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

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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.

Call Mayor Kenney and ask him to support abolition of the SRC

APPS is a member of the Our Cities Our Schools (OCOS) coalition of about 18 grassroots organizations that is calling for the abolishment of the School Reform Commission (SRC). The SRC was IMPOSED on Philadelphia by the state in 2001 as the governing structure of our city’s schools. With the loss of our own school board, we became the only school district out of 499 in the Commonwealth to have NO local control. The financial and academic success promised by this Harrisburg raid has never occurred. What has occurred is a silencing of the voices of the citizens of Philadelphia. We are asking that you take a few minutes to call Mayor Kenney and ask him to publicly support the Our Cities Our Schools timeline to abolish the SRC. There is a sense of urgency motivated by the next election cycle. You can go to the website listed on the attachment for more information and to sign a petition in favor of abolishing. Thank you for your support.

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Ears on the SRC: August 17, 2017

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by Diane Payne
August 24, 2017

Commissioners Bill Green, Estelle Richman, Chris McGinley and Farah Jimenez were present; Chair Joyce Wilkerson was absent, so Jimenez acted as Interim Chair. Eight members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS) were present; six testified in defense of public education. [See APPSPhilly.net to view their testimony and read their transcripts.]   APPS members continue to call out the waste of public tax dollars, the ongoing privatization of district resources and services, and the corporate policy agenda reflected in numerous resolutions that appear monthly on the SRC agenda.

Block Voting

The SRC voted on a total of 83 resolutions that set the priorities of the Hite administration. The commissioners spent money on district needs, much of that to private contractors. The 83 resolutions were voted on in only 4 blocks; one vote by Commissioners approved 42 resolutions. There was no discussion about the merits or worth of even a single resolution. All but two passed unanimously. This governmental body spends millions of tax dollars every month even though it is not accountable to the taxpayers of the city or the state. As a state-controlled body, it operates outside the system of checks and balances that is basic to our democratic system.

Our City Our Schools (OCOS): SRC Must Go

The OCOS coalition, of which APPS is a member, is publicly advocating for a return to local control of the School District of Philadelphia. In 2001, Harrisburg imposed the SRC governance structure on Philadelphia, stripping the city of local control of the city’s schools. The justification for this was the promise of increased financial stability and improved academics. Not only has the district achieved neither of these goals, it has been forced to operate under a “Doomsday Budget” as a result of budget cuts from Harrisburg. In the Trump/DeVos education agenda, public schools continue to find themselves under siege. Looming elections in 2020 create an uncertain future at both the state and city level.

The SRC can only be dissolved by our state legislature voting to abolish or the SRC commissioners voting at an SRC meeting to abolish. Should either of those things happen, it would still take another 180 days before the Secretary of Education (Pedro Rivera under Governor Tom Wolf) can approve the vote. That timeline pushes us to just before the next election. There is a sense of urgency around abolishing the SRC before this next election. Our children are living every day with the fallout from SRC spending priorities; our tax dollars are spent on questionable and unnecessary programs. Yet, out of 499 school districts in the Commonwealth, Philadelphia is the only school district with no form of local control! In the birthplace of American democracy, our voice is silenced.

Deaf Ears

 

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