Diane Payne’s SRC testimony transcript – November 15, 2016


I would like to begin with a hello to Joyce Wilkerson. I am a retired teacher and advocate for public education.

The state takeover of our school district has not improved our academic or financial status in any meaningful way. But what it has done is deny the entire population of the city of Philadelphia their democratic right to local school control. 499 other school districts in the commonwealth of PA maintain that right but not the second class citizens of Philadelphia.

What the citizens of this city have instead is a five member board, imposed on us, taking away our democratic voice, not producing promised out comes for our children, and worst of all subscribing to a free-market vision of corporate reform that relies heavily on outsourcing and privatization of schools and services with no one evaluating the performance of this commission in its 15 years of imposition. It is not surprising that this is the ideology that guides the actions of this administration because Dr. Hite is a Broad Superintendent’s Academy trained graduate. Eli Broad, a neo liberal, has used money from his vast fortune to promote his ideology of free market education. In his quest, he has founded a superintendents’ academy to train and disperse like minded superintendents. Education is no longer about democracy and the common good but rather about competition and draining tax dollars into a two tiered system that coincidently lines the pockets of those in the receiving end of privatizing and outsourcing.

In our city, this passion for free market privatization and loss of democratic principles can be seen in the following ways: Resolutions passed each month that outsource and privatize (SRC resolution A-26 ignores local 32BJ of SEIU), the expansion of charter schools, the various forms of restructuring schools which actually further destabilizes school communities (this year called Priority Schools), techniques to thwart the intent of the Sunshine Act as is being carried out now with Mastery, Aspira and Universal Charter renewals, the privatizing sway of PSP’s close involvement and influence with the hierarchy of the SDP – yet their board meetings are not open to the public and a majority of those members live outside of the city, and throwing due process and the basic democratic tenant of innocent until proven guilty out the window as in a case before you today.

Last month, I asked Dr. Hite several questions. One question was to please identify the resources he referred to when announcing the schools placed on the Priority List. He said he would answer at this month’s meeting. No answer was provided today regarding that question. I ask again: what resources were placed in those 11 schools that should have helped them to succeed?

(See the video for Superintendent Hite’s response to Diane’s question.)