Kristin Luebbert testimony transcript from the July 6, 1917 meeting of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission

Kristen Luebbert SRC 7-6-17

Click the picture to view the SRC meeting video and go to 23.39 to view Kristin’s testimony.

Fiscal Responsibility

Good Morning. My name is Kristin Luebbert, I am a teacher, community member, and proud member of the Caucus of Working Educators of the PFT.

Since the SRC members brought it up at the June 20th SRC meeting, I have been musing about the topic of fiscal responsibility. Of course, since we all live in a capitalist society, thinking about fiscal responsibility is a necessity.

One of the types of fiscal responsibility I have been observing and participating in this summer is witnessing my amazing colleagues trying to beg, borrow, crowd-fund, and trash-pick supplies to make their classrooms inviting and complete this fall. I know of no other profession in which people must buy the supplies they need to adequately do their job.

So far this summer, I know:

  • An amazing music teacher who is putting on performances simply to buy drumsticks and other supplies for her class.
  • An English teacher who has reached out to everyone they know going back to high school to retrieve all their old books to make a classroom library.
  • A dedicated elementary teacher trying to find used magazine holders to help organize student folders in the classroom.
  • An ESOL teacher who is collecting used dictionaries from college friends and others so her students have reference materials.

Of course, these are all admirable ways of re-using and recycling, but why should teachers have to have at least a couple side-hustles going on to supply their classrooms and do the best job for their students?

MEANWHILE, just some examples of the SRC’s idea of fiscal responsibility

  • The fallout from the infamous no-bid camera imbroglio–almost 7 million dollars when all was said and done.
  • A quarter-million dollar contract with a “legal turnaround specialist” to advise on cutting legal fees.
  • In spite of that, another 8.5 million dollars approved last month for outside legal fees.
  • A 54 million dollar (now cut to 10 million) proposal to outsource a segregated special education school.
  • Lots of expensive out-sourcing for substitutes, Relay “Graduate School”, Jounce partners, etc….

This seems more like wanton spending than fiscal responsibility.

Speaking of the resolution for the segregated special ed school: The stated goals of this plan to outsource the school to an unknown and insufficiently vetted company could be undertaken and achieved by current SDP personnel.

I know that we have dedicated and knowledgeable people in the Office of Specialized Services and in our schools who can implement this plan if they were given the time and complete resources.

As a teacher who works in a K-8 school that serves one of the two highest percentages of students with special needs in the district, I know what we can do when we are given the resources that our students need. Fund these programs fully and completely inside the SDP, and we will be able to do this work with our students.

I urge you to exercise fiscal responsibility as well as compassion and refuse to vote to segregate our high needs students.