Diane Payne SRC testimony – March 17, 2016

Diane Payne SRC 3-17-16

I wish to speak today to the members of the public on behalf of the institution of public education. This SRC and administration do not have a core belief in the promise of a public education that serves the common good. Because of their failure to believe in this venerable public institution, we do see much to lament in our schools. I doubt it’s possible to succeed when those in charge don’t believe in you. They do have help in their failure mission with state budgets that never adequately meet the needs of those most in need.

In ways both big and small this SRC stabs public education in the heart while promoting the corporate model. Their words tell us it’s all about the kids but their actions scream corporate.

I say this with the confidence of my lived experience as a school district teacher. I improved in my craft through my own self-reflection, independent exploration and teacher collaboration. I had to work around the road blocks the district erected to good teaching and I lamented the waste of money on things I didn’t need while pining for the teaching tools I did need.

Today, prime examples of the district’s failure to believe in public education is manifested in giving three more schools to charter operators and using the “turnaround” model to inflict “forced destabilization” on four more struggling schools by requiring 100% of the staff & principal to reapply for their jobs while accepting no more than 50% back. This is nothing short of a failure to believe in public education…a vote of no confidence.

As residents of Philadelphia, we do have the power to demand the SRC and administration start acting like they believe in public schools that serve the common good and not corporate interests. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Believe in public education from the top down!
  2. Involve real teachers in ways that matter and stop the blame game!
  3. Remove climates of fear in buildings to encourage teacher voice!
  4. Stop squandering precious dollars on law suits that aim to silence democratic voice!
  5. Stop squandering precious dollars on resolutions that promote corporate over public!
  6. Take public stands on harmful corporate reform practices such as high stakes testing, value added teacher evaluations, and charter laws that harm public school children!

Just look to Lower Merion for successful public schools. If we switched teachers with one elementary school in Philadelphia and one elementary school in Lower Merion do you really think Philly would magically succeed while Lower Merion would dive to failure? Stop the blame game.

This is a quote from an article that is looking at how it was possible for the Nazis regime to flourish. The parallel here to our public education system is the incremental steps and language that is hard to take issue with because it says the “right things” like every child deserves a high quality seat, of course that is true. The issue is the honesty of what the power structure is trying to attain. Here in Philadelphia…corporate reform is the goal. Step by incremental step and by using flawed premises, false dialogue, starvation resources then blame and shame.

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it — please try to believe me — unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop.

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained, or on occasion, “regretted,” that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these “little measures” that no “patriotic German” could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

What Will a Trump Presidency Look Like? The Rise of the Nazis Is a Pretty Good Guide | Alternate – March 14, 2016


There is so much to read on these topics that is written by educators and not corporate think tanks. Here is just a few if you care to read something beyond the corporate agenda.

Education researchers blast Common Core standards, urge ban on high-stakes tests| Washington Post – March 16, 2016

John Thompson: The Utter Failure of Standardized Teacher Evaluation | Diane Ravitch’s blog – March 16, 2016

The Seductive Allures of School Choice | Cloaking Inequity – March 14, 2016
PA calls this Education Tax Credits

On Line….All The Time?
Educationalchemy – March 15, 2016