If anyone had any doubt that the SRC’s governance of the public schools in this city is a corrupt system, the events of the past week should finally convince them. The SRC is a pay-to-play system in which the money interests always trump the interests of children and parents.
Commissioner Jimenez, who lat year, on national TV, characterized Donald Trump as a “working-class billionaire” during an electoral campaign in which he demonized Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims and disabled people, hosted a forum on public education at the Union League, the mecca of the city’s 1%. The keynote speaker was brought in to repeat the proven lie that charters are better than public schools. He actually said, as Commissioner Green has, that the New Orleans charterization of its entire district is a model for Philadelphia. That speaker then told reporters that union members, like George Wallace, were “standing in the schoolhouse door”, denying minority children a quality education. Neither Commissioner Jimenez nor Dr. Hite, who appeared on the panel at the Union League, has disavowed his statements.
Commissioner Jimenez should take this opportunity to tell us how it is not a conflict to be the Director of the Philadelphia Education Fund while sitting on the SRC. And why she denied entrance to a school district parent holding a ticket to that event.
Two days ago, the pro-charter Education Opportunities for Families announced that former Commissioner Sylvia Simms would be its new director. Simms cast many pro-charter votes and was responsible for the giveaway of Wister Elementary to Mastery charter over the sustained opposition of the parents and educators of that school’s community. Documents released through Right-to-Know requests by APPS and the news media proved that there was lobbying, mostly engineered by Commissioner Green, by board members of the Philadelphia School Partnership—for a resolution that Simms and Green told the public had only been written the night of the meeting at which it was introduced. Now Simms works for an organization which is financially supported by PSP. That represents a serious betrayal of the people this body is supposed to represent. It raises serious ethical questions. I would say obvious questions, but ethical questions don’t seem to be obvious in this room.
The SRC continues to approve new charters. Worse, it continues to protect charters that data from its own Charter School Office show are failing in every sense of the word. Chair Wilkerson, when will the SRC schedule votes on the renewals postponed since last May? When will the SRC schedule votes on the Aspira and Universal schools postponed since April 2016? The SRC’s funding of these schools is a misuse of taxpayer funds. You have an obligation to tell us what your intentions are here. It]cannot be any clearer that the SRC represents the interests of charter investors and the corporations and hedge fund managers who run PSP.
The School Reform Commission operates outside the democratic system of checks and balances. It is inherently corrupt. It is un-American. The events of the past week have shown how clearly the SRC propagates a massive pay-to-pay system. The only truly ethical thing the SRC can do at this point is to vote to abolish itself and end the disenfranchisement of the people of Philadelphia.