I find the priorities of this SRC and School District to be skewed and not toward the interests of ALL of Philadelphia’s children, in ALL of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Some maybe, but not all.
Too many of our children – and staff – are sent to live in buildings for 5 days a week, 7 hours a day that are unhealthy and even pose a threat to their immediate and long-term health. I understand that our country, state and city have had financial ups and downs, many even caused by the machinations of self-interested financial and political interests that pontificate, but don’t really care, about the impact on the interests of the public.
Superintendent Hite stated that there were no surprises in the news reports about our toxic schools, that they were well-known and blamed budget woes. So, I wonder, where has the SRC’s outrage been for all these years over the health, safety and poisoning of a generation of our children? Why haven’t you been publicly protesting and lobbying the State, City and the public to enlist our support to fight for our children’s rights, health-wise and educationally? Superintendent Hite also said, “It is not about how we got here or who is to blame.” The SRC has taken a similar stance. Is it because you’ve been implementing your own plan for the District?
Too many of our children have been the proverbial “cogs in the wheel” as you and your predecessors on the SRC have moved to “manage the schools”, run them like a business, have an over-arching approach where you look at the forest and never at the effect on many of the actual trees, aka: individual children with recognized individual developmental, cognitive, and social/emotional growth rates. Sacrifices must be made for the greater good, huh?
Truth be told, the School District has always been run as a business, – as are all large entities, civic or not. The difference is to what end and for whose ultimate benefit? Businesses are concerned only about the bottom line and its effect on corporate heads, investment backers and stockholders. That’s what separates public and civic responsibilities from private businesses.
Yesterday, I sat in the press conference held by State Auditor General De Pasquale as he reported on his audit of Aspira Inc. and their running of five charter schools, the renewal for two of which sat in limbo by the inaction of the SRC since 2014. He especially pointed to the “plummeting of their fund balance such that 4 of their 5 schools had budget deficits” and marveled at the fact that even so, its annual management fees nearly doubled from 2015 to 2016. He actually likened it to the fox overseeing the chickens.
Yes, I understand all about the charter law. But, beyond charter schools, the SRC and District have been dismantling more and more day to day School District operations and have prioritized outsourcing them to private companies and corporate interests like Aspira. But you have a duty, a fiscal responsibility, to place the interests of our children above those of business and investment interests.
Children first. All children in ALL neighborhoods.