Diane Payne – School Reform Commission Testimony – September 17, 2015

Diane Payne - SRC testimony - 9--17-15

I am speaking today on SRC resolutions 2, 3 and 7 pertaining to adding a facilities location for Belmont Elementary Charter School, Boys Latin Charter School and Tacony Academy Charter School.  These schools will now operate in two locations instead of one. 

Question 1: Are seats being added to these schools?  If so, how is this possible as a resolution?

Question 2: If you wish to review a charter school’s application, where and/or how can you find this information online?  I couldn’t locate their approved applications on the SDP website or on the individual school’s website. 

Lastly a statement about 2 things Dr. Hite said in his September 15th Notebook interview about the new school year:

On the question of teachers trusting Dr. Hite and the last SRC meeting, Dr. Hite mentioned that he heard from retired teachers at the last SRC meeting following that with “let’s be clear, I meet with teachers and I hear from teachers.” 

Regarding that statement, it was not just retirees who spoke at that meeting.  Also, implied in that statement is that what you hear from teachers differs from what you hear from “retirees.”  Since data is such a strong and important presence in our district, I would suggest that before making implications or statements about what teachers feel, think or need, you do an independent survey that protects their autonomy so they can speak freely.  I too speak with teachers in various ways and find the exact opposite to be true.  The retirees who speak do in fact represent the views of those working in the classrooms. 

When questioned on privatization, I take issue with the comment that it is silly to think the school district’s plans are to privatize.  I find the use of the word silly offensive to the speakers who bring genuine care and concern to these meetings. 

In addition to being offensive, it is a distortion of what is happening on the ground.  This district has been closing, turning around, transforming, out-sourcing, renaissancing and laying off for years now, both before you got here and also very much under your leadership.  All of these actions are actions that support the privatization of our public schools.  As a Broad graduate, would you not agree that it is also the mission of the very institution that you attended?  It is not silly, it is real.