Eyes on the November 19th SRC

9-17-15 SRC

By Karel Kilimnic

November 14, 2015

Welcome to the Fourth Edition of APPS’ “Eyes on the SRC”. Every month, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission votes, with almost no public deliberation, on pages of resolutions that will affect the academic and financial future of the district. Our purpose here is to shine a light on a few resolutions that need to be explained in more detail. We ask questions here which should be asked of the SRC members themselves. That is one reason why we need every voice to speak out against the chaos and turmoil created by this present administration and by the School Reform Commission.

School started in September with a dire lack of substitutes, and the situation has not improved. Teachers in every school are losing valuable prep time to covering classes. Dr. Hite admits that Source4Teachers is doing poorly, yet he makes no effort to terminate their contract. He and the SRC, which voted to outsource substitutes, need to be called out on this at every opportunity.

The next SRC meeting is Thursday November 19th at 5:30. To register to speak you must call 215 400 4180 by 4:30 on Wednesday November 18th. It’s best to say that you’re a teacher, parent, or community member because only “one member of an organization can register to speak” (from the District website).

Want some help with your testimony? Contact us at philaapps@gmail.com


November 19 Resolutions of Note:

SRC-7 (Pending)
Operating Budget: Contract Ratification with External Vendor (to be identified) – Charter School Application Evaluation Support

APPS: There is no other description, but it appears to be another outsourcing of services. Why is an outside vendor necessary for Charter School Application Evaluation Support? Isn’t this the job of the Charter School Office staff? Applications for new charter schools are due on November 15th. The District website provides no information as to how many staff work in the Charter School Office nor does it offer a list of applicants for this upcoming round of applications.


General Counsel

A-18
Settlement of Civil Action – Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and Lisa Haver
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School Reform Commission, through the Chair, and The School District of Philadelphia, through the General Counsel, to enter into a settlement agreement with Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and Lisa Haver, in a form satisfactory to the School Reform Commission and the Office of General Counsel, in exchange for releases of all claims for alleged violations by the School Reform Commission of the Sunshine Act, including: (i) all claims that the announcements of reasons for executive sessions by the SRC are insufficiently specific; (ii) all claims that the SRC is engaging in private deliberations simply because the members of the SRC may refrain from discussing resolutions during their public meetings; and (iii) all claims arising out of or in connection with the special public meeting of the SRC held on October 6, 2014, and dismissal of the civil action filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County and the appeal filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, at no cost to the School District.

Description: On November 4, 2014, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and Lisa Haver filed a lawsuit against the SRC, the School District and Chairman William Green in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, November Term, 2014, No. 382, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for alleged violations by the School Reform Commission of the Sunshine Act. On January 19, 2015, plaintiffs filed an Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which Motions were denied by the Court by Order dated February 3, 2015. On February 26, 2015, plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania from the Order denying their Motions, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania; No. 284 CD 2015. This resolution documents the settlement of the issues between the parties.

APPS: Actually, we are still in negotiations to reach a settlement. As numerous APPS members have stated at SRC meetings in the past year, the SRC should stop spending money on outside legal counsel and negotiate a settlement. APPS is not asking for a cash settlement or any damages. We want the SRC to obey the Sunshine Act—don’t invoke the word “transparency” until you make a commitment to practice it. Stop wasting money on outside law firms. This is the third time this Resolution has appeared. It was deleted both times just before the meeting after APPS pointed out to the Office of General Counsel that there was no agreement.


Note: This is a long resolution, but it offers another example of how the players in the corporate education reform movement gain access to the school district.

Executive

A-19
Amendment of Acceptance Period of Grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation; Contracts with EdPro Consulting, LLC, EdBuild, Bell Creek Consulting, Education Pioneers, Sway Design Corporation

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to amend the acceptance period of the grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, originally approved pursuant to Resolution A-63, approved by the School Reform Commission on June 18, 2015, by extending the acceptance period from the original scheduled expiration date of June 30, 2017 through June 30, 2018; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with EdPro Consulting, LLC, to support the development of the systems and processes for contract oversight for external providers; to support the creation of a customized School Progress Report (SPR) for schools in the Turnaround and Opportunity Networks; and other services that may be relevant to the goals, terms, and conditions outlined in the grant agreement with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, for an amount not to exceed $80,000, for the period commencing November 20, 2015 through June 30, 2018 and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with EdBuild to support the development of a regional analysis tool; to support the development of a financial impact analysis tool; and other services that may be relevant to the goals, terms, and conditions outlined in the grant agreement with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, for an amount not to exceed $100,000, for the period commencing November 20, 2015 through June 30, 2018 and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with Bell Creek Consulting to document best practices regarding the support and accountability for autonomous district schools; to support the development of performance management systems for autonomous district schools; and other services that may be relevant to the goals, terms, and conditions outlined in the grant agreement with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, for an amount not to exceed $100,000, for the period commencing November 20, 2015 through June 30, 2018; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with Education Pioneers to provide additional staffing capacity to support the development of charter school performance reports; to support the development of an annual charter sector report; to support the ongoing development of the Authorizing Quality Initiative website; and other services that may be relevant to the goals, terms, and conditions outlined in the grant agreement with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, for an amount not to exceed $50,000, for the period commencing November 20, 2015 through June 30, 2018; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with Sway Design Corporation for the purpose of supporting the development of data analytics and information tools and other services that may be relevant to the goals, terms, and conditions outlined in the grant agreement with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, for an amount not to exceed 30,000 for the period commencing November 20, 2015 through June 30, 2018.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to use grant funds to purchase goods and services and pay salaries and benefits of staff to be hired to execute the tasks listed below:

  • Documenting research/good practice on autonomous schools
    • Making design decisions on autonomous schools oversight
    • Implementing autonomous schools oversight practices
    • Documenting research/good practice on contracting
    • Making design decisions on performance contracting
    • Implementing design decisions on performance contracting
    • Adding staff capacity to the Charter Schools Office
    • Developing a plan for increased charter participation in the SPR
    • Identifying and purchasing consulting resources for the Charter Schools Office
    • Instituting operator input councils to facilitate the review of the SPR with operators • Drafting and publishing annual charter school performance reports • Drafting and publishing an annual charter sector report
    • Developing an Authorizing Quality Initiative website which will house the reports listed above • Updating the SDP School Finder site
    • Conducting the NACSA authorizer evaluation
    • Adding staff capacity for the System of Great Schools process
    • Identify and purchasing consulting resources for the System of Great Schools process
    • Developing protocols for public engagement around the System of Great Schools process
    • Developing tools to capture the impact of the System of Great Schools process
    • Developing and documenting standard System of Great Schools processes
    • Updating the SPR
    • Presenting System of Great Schools recommendations to SRC
    • Publishing and disseminating the SPR

Description: The System of Great Schools Process is the process by which The School District of Philadelphia analyzes multiple sources of data to drive strategic, systemic decision-making for accountability and continuous improvement at each school and for the system as a whole. Support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation will provide resources to support the data analysis portion of this work, as well as resources to support ongoing documentation, publication, and outreach efforts aligned with this work.

The Charter Schools Office oversees the process by which charter schools in Philadelphia are authorized and overseen to monitor school performance and management. Support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation will provide resources to add staff capacity in the Charter Schools Office. Foundation grant funding will also provide resources that will enable the Charter Schools Office to increase charter participation in the School Progress Report system, to increase cooperation and information sharing between the District and the charter sector, and to enhance the ongoing documentation, publication, and outreach efforts aligned with this work.

APPS:   A little background information on these entities receiving contracts from the District:

EdBuild’s board members are a who’s who of corporate ed reform. Derrell Bradford is executive director of NYCAN; Michael Hassid is with Educators4Excellence, Josh Kern is CEO of Ten Square in D.C. (a charter advocacy group), and Angelika Dickens is general counsel for StudentsFirst.

Bell Creek Consulting appears to be an extension of McKinsey & Company, Paul Kihn’s present (and former) employer. McKinsey & Co. is a global management company.

EdPro’s Founder and President previously worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is now providing professional development services. EdPro is working “to support the creation of a specialized SPR for schools in the Turnaround and Opportunity Networks.”

Education Pioneers collaborates with the Broad Foundation [Dr. Hite was trained at its unaccredited Broad Academy superintendent program] “… to bring thousands of exceptional leaders and managers into the sector, to advance the critical work of hundreds of education organizations, and to impact the education of millions of students nationwide, Scott Morgan launched Education Pioneers in 2003.” Why are outside people deciding who the District needs to run it?