by Karel Kilimnik
June 11, 2017
The district continues to cry poor even as it accelerates the flow of money into the pockets of vendors, charter school operators, consultants, and pseudo-research entities like Cambridge Education, thus diverting funds which should be spent on services to our students. APPS has reported on this alarming escalation for the past two years of writing our Eyes on the SRC. Outside law firms continue to harvest public money. Who is really transforming education—entrepreneurs or educators?
Cambridge Education returns to drain more money from the District to conduct more “school quality reviews”. Their shoddy work provided the justification for the changes to 11 schools thrown into the Priority School category, Dr Hite’s latest plan for “transforming” schools” or to be more accurate forcing teachers out of their schools and destabilizing school communities.
Not only has the district failed to negotiate a contract with PFT, they continue to create chaotic conditions in our schools by forcing teachers to transfer from one school to another under the guise of “turning around” schools. The goal of the Hite administration appears to be destabilizing schools.
Dr Hite has announced his plan to close three neighborhood schools every year starting next year. This while the SRC approves more substandard charters. Where will the students and teachers of these schools go? Does Dr. Hite care?
We urge all of those who have been displaced by school closings—and those who will be—to come to APPS’ Requiem for Philly’s Closed Schools Thursday June 15th at 3:30 as we remember the 29 neighborhood schools shuttered since 2011—and stop the district from closing more.
What if the $19 million in contracts to vendors for the purpose of outsourcing district services were funneled back to the schools? CFO Uri Monson, in answer to a question from Commissioner Green, stated that it would cost $24 million to replace the librarians in every public school. $19 million would cover 75% of that. The priority of the SRC is to enrich private vendors by outsourcing and redundant “research” reports, not to enrich the education of our students.
If the SRC approves all resolutions, as it usually does, they will spend $205 million at this one meeting.
Next SRC Action Meeting: Thursday, June 15, 4:30 PM. The SRC has also scheduled one for Friday, June 30 at 4:30 PM. No explanation of why they need to hold a meeting on Friday of the 4th of July holiday weekend. To testify, call 215 400 4180 before 3 PM the day before the meeting.
Note: After the completion of this edition of Eyes, the SRC posted additional charter renewal resolutions late Friday afternoon. We will try to keep you updated on this. See KIPP resolution at the end of the resolution list.
Resolutions of Note
Due to the tsunami of resolutions for this meeting (over 120), we are only posting the first paragraph of each resolution. You can see the list in its entirety here:
More Money for Faux Relay Principal Training Program
Categorical Grant Fund: $54,000 Acceptance of Grant from Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) – Tuition for Relay Graduate School of Education – National Principals Academy Fellowship RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept with appreciation, the grant of $54,000.00 from the Philadelphia Schools Partnership to pay for tuition for nine principals and three Assistant Superintendents to attend the Relay Graduate School of Education National Principals Academy Fellowship, for the period commencing June 17, 2017 through June 30, 2018
Donation: $70,000 Acceptance of the Donation of Incentives from The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia for Participants in the National Principal Academy Fellowship
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept with appreciation, the donation of incentives for principals and assistant superintendents attending the National Principal Academy Fellowship valued at $70,000 from The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia (The Fund) for the period commencing June 16, 2017 through June 30, 2018.
APPS Analysis: Relay Graduate School of Education was founded by three “no-excuses” charter founders to train teachers for their schools. The founders and staff have little education, training or experience in classroom teaching. Relay’s teacher preparation program has been described as “a very narrow preparation to engage in a very controlling and insensitive form of teaching that is focused almost entirely on raising test scores.”
Relay Graduate School’s Masters of Arts in Teaching program was denied accreditation in Pennsylvania for a long list of reasons including its failure to demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the state requirements for approval for a program leading to a MAT degree. In other words, Relay couldn’t fill out the application correctly.
According to the PA DOE, Relay failed to provide evidence that it would employ a sufficient number of qualified personnel for operating in Pennsylvania. In fact, none of the three proposed members of Relay’s Pennsylvania advisory committee has a background in higher education administration or in the assessment of higher education program quality. Two of the three proposed advisors were employed at Mastery Charter school, the proposed site for Relay’s operation, raising “concerns about their independent advisory capacity.” Commissioner McGinley, stating his objections to Relay for a number of reasons, voted to deny Relay at a recent SRC meeting.
If, according to the district, the principal serves as the instructional leader of a school, why would the Philadelphia School Partnership and the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia throw money at an inferior institution to train its principals? (In light of the fact that the SRC has postponed renewal of 3 Mastery schools for over a year, we have to wonder about their connection.) The Fund is presented to the public as a philanthropic enterprise, but is clearly being used to advance the reformy ideology of PSP and charter investors.
SRC Continues to Withhold Crucial Information from Public: Resolutions Minus Descriptions
Operating Budget: Renewal of Lease Agreement with Big Picture Philadelphia for use of the William Hunter School- El Centro de Estudiantes
Operating Budget: Renewal of License Agreement with International Education and Community Initiatives (d/b/a One Bright Ray, Inc.) for use of the Bartram Annex Building
Operating Budget: Renewal of License Agreement with The Camelot Schools of Pennsylvania, L.L.C., – Hunting Park
Operating Budget: Renewal of License Agreement with The Camelot Schools of Pennsylvania, L.L.C., – Daniel Boone High School
APPS Analysis: The School Reform Commission is a governmental body overseeing a $2.9 billion budget. It has an obligation and duty to inform the taxpayers of what it spends money on. The court-ordered settlement of our Sunshine Act suit signed by the SRC requires the SRC to post “full Resolved paragraphs” that will be available to the public at least two weeks prior to a regular public meeting. The SRC violates this agreement on a regular basis. Does their word mean anything? Does what they tell the judges of the Common Pleas Court mean anything?
More Priority School Spending
Operating Budget: $1,000,000 Contract Amendments with Adelphia Street, Hertz Furniture, Nickerson, PEMCO, Reed Associates, School Specialty, Virco, Kay-Twelve, School Health, Staples, and School Outfitters – Classroom Furniture
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver, and perform amendments to contracts originally entered into separately with Adelphia Steel, Hertz Furniture, Nickerson, PEMCO, Reed Associates, School Specialty, Virco, Kay-Twelve, School Health, Staples, and School Outfitters, pursuant to Resolution A-21, approved by the School Reform Commission on April 27, 2017, to purchase classroom furniture, by increasing the aggregate amount of the contracts by an additional $1,000,000 from the $500,000 approved by Resolution A-21, to an aggregate amount not to exceed $1,500,000, subject to funding.
APPS Analysis: Last month the SRC approved, via Resolution A-21, spending $500,000 for classroom furniture for the 2017-2018 school year. Resolution A-40 increases that amount by $500,000 for furniture for the 11 schools “participating in the District’s System of Great Schools (SGS) initiative.” This description makes it seem like they chose to participate. In reality they were gathered into the Priority School net involuntarily
Rather than providing needed supports to these struggling schools, like smaller classes and behavioral supports, the district instead provided more turmoil by forcing teachers and some principals out. Four schools had “internal turnarounds” (charterization from within) imposed on them that involves spending a big chunk of the additional money on professional development for teachers—including two weeks in the summer. Blended learning will be incorporated into many of the Priority Schools’ curriculum, providing yet another opportunity for vendors to cash in. The four high schools will enter a program focused on ninth graders. There is considerable research showing that students need stability and need to connect with adults in their lives. This constant turnover is detrimental to everyone. New furniture is good but a stable school staff is paramount to student achievement.
Operating Budget: $910,080 Contract with Educational Testing Services – SGS High School Reform Initiative
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 Educational Testing Service (ETS) to provide professional development and coaching services to principals and teachers at four high schools, for an amount not to exceed $910,080, for the period commencing July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.
APPS Analysis: This resolution states: “Resulting from this comprehensive school quality review process and feedback from students, parents, stakeholders, teachers, and community members, four high schools (Fels, Benjamin Franklin, Overbrook, and Kensington Health Sciences Academy) will become initial participants of a comprehensive plan to ensure that students who traditionally underperform, graduate prepared for success in college and career. “ The comprehensive school quality review process and feedback conducted by the Cambridge Group earlier this year was deeply flawed as described in our own report on the Cambridge Group’s Report.
The Cambridge Report sorely lacked data to prove its conclusions. Lisa Haver reported that in every one of the eleven reports, Cambridge states that teachers do not use data to inform their lessons. This is a surprising criticism from a company that has produced a report so lacking in data that its findings are meaningless. They somehow came to conclusions based on random comments from various members of the school community without specifying how people were contacted or how many they spoke to, whether in person, in focus groups, or by canvassing.
Who benefits from this Cambridge Report? One beneficiary is ETS with this almost $1 million contract to provide professional development to the faculty at these high schools. The district won’t come out and blame teachers, but its ever-increasing spending on questionable PD implies that the lack of professionalism of teachers is the root of all the problems at these schools. Not, of course, the warped spending priorities of the Hite administration.
Enriching Law Firms With District Funds: An SRC Priority
Operating Budget: $8,500,000 Authorization of Engagement of Outside Counsel
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the General Counsel, to retain and engage the following law firms and attorneys as outside counsel to represent the School Reform Commission, The School District of Philadelphia and its present and former employees, and to pay counsel fees and related costs and expenses, including, but not limited to, filing fees, transcripts, experts’ fees, arbitrator and mediator fees and other professional costs. The fees and costs per matter shall not exceed $500,000 (except for fees and costs for labor negotiations, audits and investigations, which shall not exceed $750,000 per matter), for an aggregate amount not to exceed $8,500,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019:
Ahmad Zaffarese LLC
Archer & Greiner P.C.
Assigned Counsel Incorporated (temporary attorneys and paralegals) Ballard Spahr LLP
Barrack Rodos & Bacine
Bazelon Less & Feldman, P.C.
Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg LLC
Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC
Clark Hill PLC
Dilworth Paxson LLP
Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC
Fineman Krekstein & Harris, P.C.
Fox Rothschild LLP
Rudolph Garcia, Esq.
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller
King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul LLC
Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP
Kolber & Randazzo, P.C.
Landau, Hess, Simon & Choi
Levin Legal Group, P.C.
Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin
Pepper Hamilton LLP
Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP Saul Ewing LLP
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
Law Offices of Richard A. Stoloff
Swartz Campbell, LLP
White & Williams LLP
To read the entire resolution see Resolution A-71 in the School District Resolutions for June 15, 2017.
APPS Analysis: Fun fact: there is an Office of General Counsel at the school district which is staffed with over 20 attorneys, plus support staff. You might not know that after seeing the SRC continue to pass resolutions, sometimes more than once a year, allotting millions to outside firms. And, of course, work must be found for them. Despite losing in two lower courts, including unanimously in the Court of Common Pleas, the SRC appealed to the State Supreme Court. They lost. When Dr. Hite laid off all of the counselors, then brought them back in clear violation of seniority rules, an arbitrator ruled against the district. They appealed and lost; the district was ordered to award the counselors in question back pay. Why would they appeal, as they suggested they might? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on lowering class size or bringing back more counselors? Because it seems that the lawyers come first.
Why did it take two years to settle what was not a complicated complaint when APPS sued over violations of the Sunshine Act? Two years of paying lawyers from the firm of Blank Rome is an expensive tab, one that seemed not to worry the Hite administration. In September 2016 the SRC approved spending over $3 million to pay outside law firms. Commissioner Richman stated at the May 25 SRC meeting that she voted to approve Deep Roots Charter School because she did not want the District spending more money on legal fees. (We didn’t say that makes sense.) Commissioner Richman can now stand up against funding outside law firms and vote No on this Resolution—that would make sense.
More Outsourcing, Fewer Education Services
Various Funds: $112,500 Contract with Teach for America – Alternative Route to Certification Program
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver, and perform an amendment of Contract No. 0049/F17, originally entered into with Teach For America, Inc. to hire corps members, approved by the School Reform Commission on June 17, 2016 by increasing the dollar amount of the contract by an additional $112,500 from $99,000, to an amount not to exceed $211,500, and by extending the term of the contract from its original scheduled expiration date of June 30, 2017 through June 30, 2018, to hire up and support up to 37 total first and second year teachers.
APPS Analysis: TFA places inexperienced teachers in (mostly urban) classrooms after only a 5-week summer training program. TFA hiring has led to the pushing out of experienced veteran teachers, many of them teachers of color. TFA has had a tremendous drop in recruitment since 2015. Last year they actually eliminated their Office of the Chief Diversity Officer. The district says it is contracting with TFA “in an effort to ensure diverse teachers fill teaching vacancies across the District.” Negotiating a fair contract with PFT members and not freezing salaries for five years would not only ensure keeping experienced teachers, but prevent the exodus which is now underway.
How about eliminating teacher churn when schools are placed in the Turnaround Network or “Transformed” or become Priority Schools. How about ensuring stability in schools so that teachers are able to stay in a school for longer than a year—or supporting them instead of blaming them for administrative decisions? Or recruiting at Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)?
Operating Budget: $625,000 Contract Amendment with Foundations Inc. – Temporary Executive Support
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform an amendment of Contract 337/F16, originally entered into with Foundations, Inc., pursuant to Resolution A-6, approved by the School Reform Commission on August 18, 2016, by increasing the amount of the contract by an additional $625,000 from $625,000 to $1,250,000, and by extending the term of the contract from its originally scheduled expiration date of June 30, 2017 through June 30, 2018.
To read the entire resolution see Resolution A-7 in the School District Resolutions for June 15, 2017.
APPS Analysis: Foundations is no stranger to the district funding stream. When the state created the SRC in 2001, Foundations was one of the EMOs applying to manage a group of district schools. In 2011 Martin Luther King High School became part of the Renaissance Program. After months of review, the MLK SAC voted unanimously to have the Atlanta-based charter operator Mosaica manage the school. But state Rep. Dwight Evans had other plans. Foundations had been supporting him for years with generous contributions, and he wanted them running this school. It didn’t matter what the parents or teachers wanted. Despite strong-arm tactics, his efforts failed, and King returned to the district as a Promise Academy. Now the district showers Foundations with more money to seek out administrators. With the resignation of Chief Operations Officer Fran Burns this month, the district’s revolving door continues to spin. Remember when experienced teachers worked their way up the administrative ladder? When administrators stayed for more than a year or two? When administrators were connected to the city and not carpetbaggers looking for the next best position for their career? The district has a fully staffed Office of Talent. Why do they need to pay Foundations $1.25 million to find their talent?
Operating Budget: $150,000 Contract with Cambridge Education – School Quality Reviews
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School District of Philadelphia, through its Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with Cambridge Education, to develop, manage, and execute a comprehensive School Quality Review process, to gather data and develop qualitative reports on school quality for an amount not to exceed $150,000, for the period commencing September 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.
To read the entire resolution see Resolution A-13 in the School District Resolutions for June 15, 2017.
APPS Analysis: Cambridge Education was paid $200, 000 just a few short months ago to conduct a study of the targeted Priority Schools. After attending meetings at six of those schools and reading the Cambridge report, Lisa Haver told Dr. Hite and the SRC that they should demand a refund. Hardly. Cambridge is now back to collect even more.
Almost completely lacking in data, their report was filled with unsubstantiated generalities to support the Priority School Initiative. They got a foothold and are now becoming part of the outsourcing community the Hite administration has installed. Warning: these reports may very well be used by Dr. Hite to determine the next three neighborhood schools to be shuttered.
Operating Budget: $6,502,500 Contract with ScholarChip Card, LLC. – Student Smart Card Solution 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 ScholarChip Card, LLC, to provide and maintain a student smart card identification solution and visitor management system for schools for an amount not to exceed $6,502,500, for the period commencing July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2022, with the option to extend for two additional years through June 30, 2024.
To read the entire resolution see Resolution A-69 in the School District Resolutions for June 15, 2017.
APPS Analysis: The SRC passed the Philadelphia School District’s 2017-18 $2.9 billion budget last month; the June 15th agenda is packed with resolutions for new contracted services. Among these is a 5-year, $6.5 million contract with Scholarchip, the company that manages the district’s student ID and automated attendance system. Philadelphia is quietly making the transition to a new student information system, Infinite Campus. A perfect name for the learning ecosystem age—no need to invest in hiring certified teachers or repair crumbling buildings when the entire city can be your “campus.” One reason the district gave for deciding to extend Scholarchip’s contract was their use of smart card technology.
A-82 (Added 6.8.17)
Operating Budget: $73,000 Contract with Mindset Works, Inc. – LeaderKits
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 Mindset Works, Inc. for the purchase of LeaderKits to supplement the growth mindset professional development, for an amount not to exceed $73,000, for the period commencing June 16, 2017 through June 30, 2019.
APPS ANALYSIS: Mindset Works walked off with a $150,000 grant last month to provide professional development that “will provide school and central office leaders with opportunities to test, practice, and reaffirm growth minded practices and shift fixed-minded practices to promote collaboration, learning, and growth in the future.” Now they return to sell the District more of their products. This outsourcing enriches the vendor and depletes our schools of needed services. Why not hire experienced, competent central office leaders committed to working with the district and not using it as a launching pad for their careers. How much will Mindset Works get next year?
Donation: $1,775,411 Acceptance of Donation from Teach Plus; Memorandum of Understanding
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept with appreciation the donation from Teach Plus, Inc. of professional development services and coaching for 20 teacher leaders in grades kindergarten through third grade to improve literacy outcomes, valued at approximately $1,775,411, at the following schools: Bayard Taylor, Alexander K. McClure, Cayuga, Benjamin B. Comegys, and James R. Lowell at no cost to the District, and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, contingent upon receipt of this donation, to execute, deliver and perform a Memorandum of Understanding with Teach Plus, Inc., to provide ongoing professional development and coaching to the 20 teacher-leaders in the five designated schools, valued at approximately $1,775,411, for the period commencing August 15, 2017 to July 1, 2020. [See link above for full resolution]
APPS Analysis: Teach Plus, Inc is yet another company apparently being added to the Hite administration’s stable of outsources. Last month Teach Plus offered a grant of $350,000 for a three year position for a “Senior Project Manager” to focus on “teacher leadership”. We described their non-education board members who are connected to the Gates Foundation. They are pushing their T3 (Turnaround Teacher Teams) product to an under-funded district which needs to spend its limited funds wisely to support students—not vendors. Dr. Hite could be spending grant money for smaller class size, nurses, adequate numbers of counselors, restoration of the Reading Recovery Program, Reading Specialists, and replacement of certified school librarian. The district does not need more outsourcing of professional services. This pattern of funding illustrates the district’s unstated policy that some lack of “leadership” among teachers is the problem. Part of the T3 program is “year-round collaboration and learning with their cohort of school and district”. Does this mean more enforced packaged professional development delivered by this Boston-based organization? How about listening to teachers, students, and parents to find out what they need to help their schools become genuine learning communities?
Categorical/Grant Fund: $1,200,000 Contract with Catapult Learning LLC – Nutrition Education Services
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 Catapult Learning LLC. for nutrition education services pursuant to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program (SNAP-ED,) for an amount not to exceed $1,200,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018.
To read the entire resolution click here to see B-8 in the SRC Resolution Summary for the full resolution.
APPS Analysis: Remember the organizing to Save the Nutrition Educators in March? This resolution marks the termination of their contracts as PFT members and district employees with the outsourcing of their jobs to a vendor. Catapult Learning CEO. Jeffrey Cohen was the former President and CEO of Sylvan Learning, described as “one of the most recognized brands in education.” The entrepreneurs are increasingly setting the agenda for education policy and services—not the educators. From Wikipedia: “Catapult Learning was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1976 under the name READS as an educational services business for private and religious schools. The company was co-founded by Stephen K. Freeman, who was the Executive Director. and later be President and CEO, serving in that role until 2011. READS was acquired in 1995 by Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc., and the company’s name was changed to Sylvan Education Solutions. In 2003, Sylvan sold its K−12 businesses to Apollo Management LP, which formed Educate Inc.
In 2004, Educate renamed the Sylvan Education Solutions division as Catapult Learning to distinguish the in-school unit from Sylvan’s retail unit, Sylvan Learning Centers. In 2008, the Catapult Learning division was sold to private investors, making Catapult Learning a private, independent company. In 2010, the firm began a series of acquisitions— including Literacy First(2011), Nonpublic Education Services, Inc. (NESI)(2012), Newton Alliance, LLC (2014), and Drop Back in Academy (2014) —and in 2015, the company merged with Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI).”
And there you have it – a series of mergers and acquisitions with a $1,200,000 contract to outsource Nutrition Education. The former district nutrition educators built the program by fostering relationships with students and their families, and they were widely respected by district teachers and administrators. The SRC cares nothing about that—only the short-term bottom line.
Operating Budget: $5,300,000 Contracts with ACS Consultants, Inc., EBS, and Progressus Therapy, LLC (Invo HealthCare Associates, LC) – Special Education Teachers and One-to-One Aides
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform contracts separately with ACS Consultants, Inc, (Allied Health Staffing Services), EBS (Educational Based Services), and Progressus Therapy, LLC (Invo HealthCare Associates, LC), to allow The School District of Philadelphia to meet its compliance obligations to students with special needs by providing substitute special education teachers, special education intervention instructors, one to one aides, and classroom assistants, to fill special education teacher and assistant vacancies that cannot otherwise be filled through the normal staffing process , and to provide substitute coverage when needed, for an aggregate amount not to exceed $5,300,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2017 through, June 30, 2018. Description: The District’s Office of Talent conducted, and is currently engaged in, an exhaustive and comprehensive recruitment effort to locate, hire and place needed special education teachers, one to one aides, and classroom assistants in District schools. Although 1,236 certified special education teachers have been successfully recruited and placed to cover the 18,441 District students with disabilities, it is estimated that there still may be over (60) special education teacher vacancies at the start of the 2017/2018 school year, and up to ten (10) special education one to one aide vacancies.
Operating Budget: $6,327,363 Contracts with EBS Healthcare, Invo HealthCare, Mediscan, Progressus, and SHC Services – Substitute Related Services
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform contracts separately with EBS Healthcare, Inc. (Educational Based Services), Progressus Therapy LLC (Invo HealthCare Associates, LC), Supplemental HealthCare Associates LLC, Mediscan Diagnostic Services, Inc. and SHC Services, Inc. (Supplemental Health Care) to deliver substitute related services including speech, hearing, vision, occupational, physical and orientation and mobility therapy, ABA therapists, Assistive Technology therapist, and other support services, for an aggregate amount not to exceed $6,327,363 for the period commencing July 1, 2017 through, June 30, 2018.
APPS Analysis: We have written about these private vendors in several different posts as they continue to drain money from the district that does not seem capable of hiring and retaining Special Education specialists—again leading to question what the Office of Talent actually does. Almost $13 million is being spent to outsource Special Education services that include teachers, aides, speech therapists, physical and occupational therapists as well as substitutes for these positions. This outsourcing practically ensures a lack of continuity in providing these essential services. School-based speech therapists develop relationships with their student clients that are essential to building trust as they work together to support student needs. When you have contract employees being supplied at will, relationships do not flourish and students fail to thrive.
Operating Budget: $70,000 Contract with Jounce Partnership – Educational Services
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 Jounce Partners, to provide professional development and coaching services at the Delaplaine McDaniel School for an amount not to exceed $70,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.
APPS ANALYSIS: Jounce is an organization that provides a training program for school leaders and school teachers in “high needs schools.” Jounce came into existence in 2012, and has worked with existing schools on a partnership basis. Jounce co-founder Paul Dean has little more than 3 years classroom experience (2 as a TFA teacher) before becoming an instructional coach. Most of the other partners have had 5 years or less. The coaching model developed by Jounce Partners is based on work being done at Relay GSE, Uncommon Schools and the Math Teacher, Paul Barnbrick-Santoyo’s Levering Leadership and Doug Lemov’s Practice Perfect. In other words, it is the philosophy and model of a “no-excuses” school. Local Jounce Partner schools include KIPP West Philadelphia Prep, Belmont Charter School, Wissahickon Charter School, and Vare-‐Washington Elementary. Their intensive teacher training is based on a model with scripted and repetitive practices resulting in automatic actions as opposed to thoughtful educational practices and thoughtful learning experiences. Jounce coaches will often correct teachers in front of their students during the frequent classroom observations taking away teacher autonomy and leadership.
Jounce Partners revised application to Open Deep Roots Charter in Philadelphia was approved by the SRC at their last meeting despite the fact that the Charter School Office Director said there was “no substantive difference” betwee the first application and the revision. (You can read our report on their application here.) Jounce Partners is an organization whose leaders have little classroom experience, who think teachers can be coached with repetitive scripted practices, and children should be taught in the same manner. Is this really the type of teacher we want teaching our children?
Operating Budget: $347,598 License Agreement with KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School – Use of John P. Turner Middle School
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a license agreement with KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School for use of part of the John P. Turner Middle School (approximately 32,185 square feet), as a charter school facility, for a license fee of $347,598 per year (cost of $10.80 per square foot) to be paid monthly, which amounts include the School District’s operating costs of all utilities, snow removal, trash pick-up, a building engineer, a custodial assistant, facilities maintenance and supplies, for the period commencing July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018, which License Agreement is to terminate in the event that the charter is revoked. KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School shall be responsible for any costs related to security and repairs due to vandalism. The terms of the license agreement must be acceptable to the School District’s Office of General Counsel and Office of Risk Management.
APPS Analysis: In June 2009 the John B Turner Middle School saw the last 8th graders depart and became a vacant building. Turner closed as feeder schools and added middle school grades into their configurations, a policy engineered by former CEO Paul Vallas. He added 7th and 8th grades to elementary schools in an effort to eliminate middle schools. Adding middle school students to elementary school wrecked havoc with school climate. These policies continue to harm schools today as these upper grades were simply inserted into buildings with little thought as to how this will work. Another result of this grade reconfiguration was the closing of schools as students were sent to other schools. This site is the first co-location of a charter school with a district school, Motivation High School. Co-locations are rampant in New York City with district schools being squeezed into facilities they are forced to share with charter schools. Trying to find out information about KIPP schools is like going down the rabbit hole with Alice. KIPP has five schools operating in Philadelphia. Specific information about grades served, addresses of schools, seems to require an advanced degree in research. Judging from the website it appears as if KIPP enrolls students and then sends them to whichever of their schools that needs students.
Thursday’s SRC meeting; 112 pages of resolutions, dozens of new policies
Philadelphia Public School Notebook – June 14, 2017
Under fire, SRC moves to shut 2 Philly charters
Philadelphia Inquirer – June 15, 2017
SRC delays vote on $36 million contract for special ed school
Philadelphia Public School Notebook – June 15, 2017