Diane Payne testimony transcript from the SRC meeting of July 15, 2017

Diane Payne SRC 5-18-17
Click the picture to go to the SRC testimonies. Click on the time stamp for 19:04 to see Diane’s testimony.

You – SRC commissioners – have complete control over our school district. You control the priorities, direction, 2.8-billion-dollar budget, mission, and lives of somewhere around 200,000 children. 16 years ago, our legislators flexed their feudal muscles and made Philadelphians vassels of Harrisburg with trumped up excuses of academic and financial need.   16 years later, we are not basking in the glow of imposed control success and we have NO voice in what happens in our city in our schools. Even though Philadelphia is a city of the first class, Harrisburg stole our democracy and our voice treating us as second-class citizens.

In 2015, an overwhelming number of citizens voted in a non-binding referendum to return to local control. We call on you, commissioners, to support that referendum and commit to vote by the Fall of 2017 to abolish the School Reform Commission and begin the process of returning our schools to local control once and for all. What you share with all of us is that you too are citizens of this city. We call upon you to join with us in restoring local control and the democratic voice to Philadelphia. We know this will not be an automatic fix to the many problems facing our urban school district. But it will give the citizens of this city a chance to have a meaningful voice in the direction our district choses to take.

The vigil that we held before this meeting highlights the absence of our citizen voice. The requiem for the 29 shuttered schools lost to our city since 2011 reflect your priorities…your goals…..your mission. 5 individuals who answer to no one least of all the citizens of Philadelphia.

It is way past time for citizen voices to mean more than 3 minutes of speaking into a vacuum.