Good evening. My name is Lisa Haver. I am a retired teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia public schools. I am also a PFT member, and all of my children graduated from Philadelphia public schools.
On February 1, members of our Alliance sent a letter to SRC Chair Marjorie Neff requesting that the motion to pair Wister Elementary School with Mastery Charters be rescinded for a number of reasons.
- The motion was introduced at the end of the meeting after many people, including students and parents with children, had left.
- The resolution was not posted or even read in its entirety to those present. When we asked to comment on the resolution, we were denied, another clear violation of the PA Sunshine Act.
- The Wister community was deliberately deceived when they were told there would be no action taken on Wister at the meeting. In fact, meetings to formulate an alternative plan had already begun at Wister.
- Commissioner Simms introduced the motion because of her admitted emotional reaction to what she heard from a small group of people advocating one position. She did not attend any of the meetings, held over three months, at Wister.
- There are a number of still unanswered questions about possible conflicts of interest relating to this action.
We did not receive a response to the letter, so we have filed a Right to Know request, as we did to find out how much the SRC has spent on fees to outside legal firms.
Just because you are allowed to do something doesn’t make it right. The SRC’s blindside of everyone with a stake in our public schools, particularly the Wister community, is wrong.
The PA ethics act states that “public office is a public trust”. That trust, whatever was left of it after 15 years of closing public schools, selling off public assets to private interests, and giveaways to charters and edu-vendors was violated even further with the SRC’s irresponsible action last month.
The SRC’s latest assault on democracy had nothing to do with giving children what they need. It was about making sure, once again, that they delivered another public school to expand the Mastery school district. We saw similar actions when they promised Steele Elementary to Mastery and when they shifted management of Douglass Elementary to Mastery without a single public meeting.
This is not about feeling compassion for parents or students. There was no compassion for the parents and students who literally cried and pleaded with the SRC not to close the schools which had been a vital part of their communities for decades and for generations. This is about the SRC’s continuing pattern of contempt for the wishes of the public and for the democratic process itself. It demonstrates once again that their repeated statements that their main concern is for the children is a lie.