I am speaking today on the vote to turn Cooke, Huey and Wister over to charter operators and the continued churn of turnarounds in a district already swimming in churn. The folks in this room pretty much expect that the SRC will vote to approve the three charter operators and shut the doors on three more public institutions in its relentless quest to carry out the BCG privatization plan. I wish to state for public record that the district continues on this path to public school closures in spite of testimonies that offered real concerns and real data such as that offered by Councilwoman Gym, Sheri Cohen, Lisa Haver, teachers and parents at all three of those schools and many others in these past months; in spite of a data system in chaos as described in the Newsworks story by Kevin McCroy just yesterday; in spite of appearances of impropriety as described by Bill Hangley in his Notebook articles; in spite of unprecedented budget cuts the like of which we have never seen; in spite of bad SRC decisions that left the district’s schools in further chaos due to a severe lack of teaching staff and substitute services thanks to Source4Pain; which in turn have left students not receiving their state mandated hours of instruction and staff holding on by fingernails in some buildings; in spite of Mayor Kenney calling on the SRC to invest in community schools as opposed to privatization; in spite of an additional appearance of impropriety as illustrated by the cozy email exchange by the pro charter, pro privatization PSP official and Commissioner Green on the Wister match; and in spite of district staff working without a fair and respectful contract.
Unprecedented financial distress, abysmal teacher retention and teacher recruitment, public unaccountability, loss of democratic voice, the destruction of our public schools…public institutions that are a cornerstone of our democracy and whose mission is to serve the common good and not the good of a few is the legacy of the state takeover and the SRC.
My question today: what credible, impartial data are you using to justify a yes vote that closes public institutions and tears at the fabric of neighborhoods when there is so much controversy, confusion, appearance of impropriety and questions surrounding the entire process? A charter operator’s application does not suffice as impartial data. Legitimate questions have been raised…how will you answer and how will you validate your decision?