APPS testimony at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – October 15, 2015

In order of appearance.
Click the picture to view the video.

Karel Kiliminik

This video is of APPS member Karel Kilimnik testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commissionn meeting – October 15, 2015.

The written transcript of Karel’s testimony.

Diane Payne

This is video of APPS member Diane Payne testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – October 15, 2015.

The written transcript of Diane’s testimony.

Lisa Haver

This is video of APPS member Lisa Haver testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – October 15, 2015.

The written transcript of Lisa’s testimony.

Barbara Dowdall

This is video of APPS member Barbara Dowdall testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – October 15, 2015.

The written transcript of Barbara’s testimony.

Deb Grill

This is video of APPS member Deborah Grill testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – October 15, 2015.

The written transcript of Deborah’s testimony.

Peg Divine

This is video of APPS supporter school nurse Peg Devine testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – October 15, 2015.

Robin Roberts

This is video of APPS supporter parent Robin Roberts testifying at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting – October 15, 2015.

Lies, Lies,Lies: Wister School is another Chapter in Privatization and Locking out Parent, Teacher, Community Voice

9-17-15 SRC

by Karel Kilimnik
October 8, 2015

Let me start by saying we now have more confirmation that this District is being led by snake oil salespeople. Wister is one of the three schools slated to be turned into Renaissance Charter Schools by the School Reform Commission. Wednesday night, October 7th was the first “Meeting with Wister Families”. It should have been “First sales pitch to Wister families”. District staff were there to sell, not listen.

Wister parents and school staff were informed that the meeting would be held at a location in the 6700 block of Germantown Avenue. I arrived to find parents, children, and school staff milling around waiting for District personnel to arrive. One of the District Charter School staff ambled up just as we learned that the meeting was being held at another location. He brushed me off when I asked if he knew about this bait and switch. People ran to their cars and took off.

We walked into a small meeting room that barely held everyone. Leading the sales pitch for the evening was Karen Kolsky, Assistant Superintendent of Neighborhood Network 6. Audience members allowed Kolsky to drone on until she introduced a parent from Mastery Cleveland Charter School. Exhibit Number One in the selling of Why Wister Parents Should Be Drooling Over The Possibility of Becoming A Renaissance Charter.

Parents were respectful to the speaker and then the frustration and anger spilled over. The Wister principal stepped up to say that her own children attended Cleveland way before it was taken over by Mastery. They had a great education. Her daughter is a doctor and her son works as a long-distance trucker.

Kolsky was peppered with concerns about special needs students, preschool children, loss of teachers, loss of their beloved Wister community. Questions about lack of transparency, lack of any real choice, the list went on. These parents were articulate, well informed, and had valid concerns that were brushed aside by Kolsky and her team.

At one point SRC spokesperson Evelyn Sample-Oates rose from the back to say that, “The recommendation is from the superintendent for what should happen to this school.” My eyes were rolling around in my head. Parents pushed back saying why are we here as the decision has already been made. The Charter School staff member tried to allay fears about continuation of Wister’s regional special education programs by saying that “they would be taken into consideration”. Someone pointed out that his statement was meaningless so he added that it would “be written into the contract”.

Principal Smith was totally amazing. She talked about how Wister made AYP from 2008-2011 when she had the resources. She encouraged parents to use their voices and be heard.  She and others raised the issue of charter operators getting more money that should be put into their school now!

Parents and Grandparents at the meeting spoke lovingly about teachers and other parents and how much love, care, and respect there was for their children. One parent said charter school teachers are all about the money. Our Wister teachers don’t make that much and they’re all about loving our children.

Kendra Brooks, who led the organizing at Steele School to defeat turning their school over to a charter operator, spoke briefly about how they’ve changed the rules this time around so that parents do not have a choice.

Kolsky reminded parents that they would be there (I asked in this same place or are you going to change it?) for weekly meetings until Nov. 24th. Charter management companies can apply for Request for Qualifications on Oct. 15th. The District is offering visits to other Renaissance charters starting the week of Oct. 12th. Parents were handed a schedule of visits that included – Birney Prep Academy (Oct. 13 ,20, 27 & 28) Mastery Pastorius (Oct. 14), Mastery Harrity (Oct. 16); Hite will announce the proposed school/charter provider on Dec. 14th and the SRC votes on Jan. 21.

I can’t write anymore. They are too disgusting. Sounds like Cooke parents had a similar experience and have pushed back and seems like Wister is pushing back too. They have a really solid principal who wants to fight back and keep their school. We shall see.

The next Wister Community Meeting is Wed. Oct. 14 at 6 to 7:30 at Center In The Park. Please come out and support the Wister School Community as they fight for their school.

The same games are being played at Jay Cooke Elementary:

Philadelphia School District Deceives Parents at Jay Cooke Charter School Hearing | Raging Chicken Press

APPS member Diane Payne responds to Hite’s Sweeping Changes


The story by Kevin McCorry of NewsWorks titled District proposes sweeping changes for 15 schools reads as though it was interesting news rather than an alarming catastrophe.  The Philadelphia Public School District is being dismantled and it is being reported as though it is an interesting school feature by news outlets across the region.  The dismantlers are shrouded in cloaks of double-speak and everyone just nods their heads as though these double-speak words are their true intentions.

Let’s start with Dr. Hite, a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy.  An academy instituted by the uber rich Eli Broad who has a mission to dismantle public education across the country and thwart the democratic process. See Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education and More on Broad in Philadelphia at Defend Public Education!

Broad trains like-minded individuals in this academy and sends them across the nation to further these goals.  Lucky for him, Dr. Hite secured a position right here in Philadelphia and has been furthering those goals of privatization ever since.  There are many takers in this privatization grab because there are trillions of dollars in education.  Where there are dollars there are grabbers!

Recently, Dr. Hite made a slew of new hires…did we notice they were out-of-town folks with strong charter backgrounds?  One even came under a cloud of suspicion.  Do we care?

Then there is Philadelphia School Partnership with a very influential seat at the school district table. PSP is shrouded in secrecy, most board members are not Philadelphia residents, they are pro-privatization and does anyone care?

Then there are the SRC meetings where teachers, parents, advocates and community members ask, beg, and yell week after week and never get answers.  Does anyone notice or care?

Then there are the frivolous lawsuits that the district engages in to continue to thwart transparency and the democratic process (even when there is no money for basic necessities for our children). Do we care how much money the district spends on these lawsuits?

Then there is the very real fact that the two-tier, double standard system of charters and public is costing a sh$% load of money and at the end of the day has no silver bullet fix to show for it. Does anyone care?

Then there is the churn, chaos, disruption that is ever present in this two-tier system that sucks the life out of our district. Does anyone care?

This is alarming! We are watching the demise of public education and we are reporting it like it just another news story.

Eyes on the SRC – Third Edition

 9-17-15 SRC

Welcome to the third edition of Eyes On The SRC.

According to the latest bombshell dropped by Dr. Hite 5,000 students will be impacted by his continued drive to create chaos and turmoil within the District instead of insuring that every school has the necessary resources. We are hoping that the next SRC meeting will be filled with public outrage over the impending changes.

The next SRC meeting is Thursday October 15th at 5:30. To register to speak you must call 215 400 4180 by 4:30 on Wednesday October 14th. It’s best to say that you’re a teacher, parent, or community member because only “one member of an organization can register to speak” (from the District website).

Want some help with your testimony? Contact us at

“You are not defeated until you give up the fight.” Jose (Pepe) Mujica, former President of Uruguay.

APPS Questions and Responses are in boldface.

Does this include all the new hires at 440? What are their salaries?

Human Resources

General/Categorical Funds: Approves Personnel, Terminations
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission hereby ratifies the appointment of the following persons to the positions, on the effective dates through September 30, 2015 and at the salaries respectively noted, as recommended by the Superintendent, provided that: (a) continued employment of persons appointed to positions funded by categorical grants is contingent upon the availability of grant funds; and (b) persons appointed to positions funded by operating funds, shall report to either the Superintendent or the Deputy Superintendent or their designees, and shall serve at the pleasure of the School Reform Commission.


So many questions. Why Mastery Charter School District (lets call it what it is)? Why not use teachers from Masterman or Central or McCall, (or other district schools?) Why arent District teachers going into Mastery schools to coach them? Isnt this supposed to be a learn from each other situation? How is this different from Resolution A-4 passed in August? Too much is unclear – for teachers to participate in select professional development who gets to select the ‘ select professional development’ – Mastery? What exactly is this special Mastery professional development? Mastery will compile progress data and work with the School District team to access and analyze data from the District Why are employees of a private enterprise with little public oversight collecting and analyzing District data. If principals are made aware of which teachers are participating, can the program really be voluntary?


Donation: $45,080 Acceptance of Donation from Mastery Charter Schools Foundation School-Base Coaching Program
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 $45,080, from Mastery Charter School as part of a grant from the William Penn Foundation, to pay for school-based peer coaching programs at Nebinger, McDaniel and Mayfair Elementary Schools, for the period commencing October 27, 2015 through June 30, 2016.

 Description: The School District, in partnership with Mastery and with support from the William Penn Foundation, is seeking to pilot a coaching program that targets a population of District teachers who are currently not served by existing District coaching programs and builds informal leadership capacity within schools to increase the opportunity for professional growth for all teachers. The ultimate goal is to build a program that yields significant gains in student growth and achievement through improved instructional practice, attained through peer coaching.

The purpose of this program is to support the creation of an effective, school-based peer-coaching model that leverages excellent teachers to coach other teachers who are either adequate or good at their craft and want to improve from adequate to good or from good to great.

Through this program, District master teachers will coach fellow District teachers who voluntarily participate in one of three coaching cycles per year. The program expects to impact 30 teachers with 1:1 coaching in each building and 90 teachers across three schools through comprehensive professional development opportunities. The participating schools are Nebinger, McDaniel, and Mayfair, each of which submitted an application of interest to participate in the program. Time for coaching will either be scheduled during release time or compensated prep payback time. Additionally, coaches will be compensated for time spent on the project outside of school hours.

The coaches and their principal will receive ongoing professional development from Mastery throughout the school year. Mastery will compile progress data and work with the School District team to access and analyze data available from the District at the teacher and school level to gauge impact of the program.

While the focus of the project is on creating a sustainable model inside participating schools for providing effective professional development through peer to peer coaching, the Mastery team with also work with the School District’s Office of Effectiveness to create central leadership for the program so that the District will be able to run the program internally without Mastery supports in the future.

The grant funds will pay for EC and release time for peer coaches to support teachers during the school day and after school; for teachers to participate in select professional development after school, and for substitutes when coaches or principals are attending professional development during the day.

These funds are directly connected to Resolution A-4, approved by the School Reform Commission on August 20, 2015.


Michelle Rhee created TNTP (The New Teacher Project). Why did the District hire a corporate education reform enterprise to screen public school district candidates? Their Board members include one person who is a partner at Bain & Co. and another is co-executive director of the Broad Foundation. They launched PhillyPlus, an alternative path for principals (partnered not only with the District but with PSP & the Great Schools Compact). For more info on this TFA & Michelle Rhee spawned entity read this

Why is there a need for Candidate Phone Screening Services? What do they do for $10,000? 

A-3 (Pending)

Operating Budget: $10,000 Contract Ratification with The New Teacher Project Candidate Phone Screening Services 


Given Dr. Hites announcement about the upcoming turmoil for  5,000  students  we need to pay attention to the School Redesign Initiative and how it is being used.

At a recent SRC meeting the principal at a school in the first SRI cohort proudly stated that he now had a new faculty. Is SRI a mechanism for forcing teachers to reapply for their jobs?

Ratification of Amendment of Acceptance Period of Grants and Donations Barra Foundation RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission hereby ratifies the amendment by The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to extend the acceptance period for grants and donations from the Barra Foundation, originally authorized by Resolution A-36, approved by the School Reform Commission on August 21, 2014, by extending the acceptance period from the original date of September 30, 2015, approved in Resolution A-36, to June 30, 2017.

Description: Resolution A-36 approved the acceptance of a grant from the Barra Foundation to support the School Redesign Initiative during the 2014-15 school year and summer. Although Resolution A-36 was intended to cover the time period from August 22, 2014 through September 30, 2015, additional funds remain for the grant due to the fact that the District selected fewer than the maximum number of schools in the first round. Therefore, funds remain to support additional redesign selected during the 2015-2016 school year to implement their redesigns during the 2016-2017 school year. The Barra Foundation has granted the district permission, pending SRC approval, to extend the grant for a second year. This resolution amends Resolution A-36 only by extending the end date to June 30, 2017, and makes no other changes to the previously approved resolution. This resolution is being submitted as a ratification now, as key staff were unaware the acceptance period was coming to a close at the end of September.


Thinking of all the wonderful artwork stripped from schools and in storage. At this point with all the turmoil you almost dont want to see them returned to schools because what would happen to them? We need to remember that the Artwork is still with us.

pB-5 (Pending)

Operating Budget: $8,868.60 Ratification of Contract Amendment with Atelier Art Services Storage of Artwork


 This is not a criticism of Playworks but does your school have a Home & School or Friends Of group that can raise $15,000? Once again these programs are available for middle class schools or schools with corporate connections. I guess this is the equity Dr. Hite keeps talking about. Equity for those who can afford it.

This Resolution is confusing. First they say they are going to pay for services at three schools, then they state they are accepting a donation of services at 12 schools including the three first mentioned. Which is it?

Operating Budget/Donations: $45,000 Contract with Playworks/$810,000 Acceptance of Gifts and Donations from Various Donors – Socialized Recess
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 Playworks to pay the cost to implement the socialized recess program at Alexander McClure Elementary School, for an amount not to exceed $30,000 and at Robert Pollock Elementary School, for an amount not to exceed $15,000, for an aggregate amount not to exceed $45,000, for the period commencing October 16, 2015 through June 30, 2016; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee to accept the donation of services from Playworks, valued at a total of $810,000, provided at no cost to the District or its schools, to implement socialized recess programs at Arthur, Bache-Martin, Greenfield, Henry, Jackson, Kearny, Lea,McCall, McClure, McMichael, Pollock, and Powel Elementary schools, for the period commencing October 16, 2015 through June 30, 2016, and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a memorandum of understanding with Playworks for the provision of these programs at these schools, for the period commencing October 16, 2015 through June 30, 2016.

Description: For the last 20 years, Playworks has been positively impacting children’s health and well- being by harnessing the power of play during recess and throughout the school day and creating valuable opportunities for children to grow physically, emotionally, and socially. A first-of-its-kind nationwide Gallup Poll of school principals conducted in 2009 revealed that principals overwhelmingly believe recess has a positive impact on students’ social skills, as well as achievement and learning in the classroom. However, the poll also found that many schools cut recess to meet testing requirements, many schools continue to take recess away as a punishment for bad behavior, and due to the multiple challenges that recess presents, schools are looking for help. Furthermore, a study published by the Journal of School Health in 2011 by Kristine Madsen, MD, MPH Professor at the University of California, showed that students exposed to one year of Playworks programming showed statistically significant increases in the following four protective factors as compared to students with no exposure to Playworks: physical activity, problems solving skills, meaningful participation in school and goals and aspirations. The study noted that these factors are essential for maintaining a positive developmental trajectory despite adverse circumstances and are “associated with positive social and academic outcomes”. Playworks’ coaches are the key to the program’s success and the people who implement the five-component, youth development curriculum to build young people’s academic and life skills and provide them with meaningful role and leadership opportunities and foster supportive relationships with peers and adults. The program specifically works to engage kids who are not typically involved in play on the playground—those who do not feel safe, those who are intimidated or bullied, those who are overweight, and those who feel their skill level is not up to par. To the delight of the children, the coach plays, too, which provides an element of fun as well as the opportunity to model appropriate behavior.

Playworks has been supporting the implementation of socialized recess in Philadelphia public schools for the past several years. For the coming year in Philadelphia, Playworks has been working with several schools and the District’s Office of Health, Safety and Physical Education, as well as with multiple local funders and community groups to minimize the cost to schools for the programming. To begin the process, interested schools contact Playworks and local partners.

Arrangements have been made so that the programming will be implemented in 12 schools, with nearly all of the funding ($810,000 out of a total cost of $855,000) coming from external sources. Through its own internal fundraising efforts, Playworks itself is able to contribute $315,000 toward the total cost of the program. Other stakeholders that have stepped forward to contribute toward the cost of the programming and will be providing funding directly to Playworks so that the school will not have to pay include the following:

  • The Lenfest Foundation is providing Playworks $28,000 toward the cost of the program at Arthur Elementary;
    • Friends of Arthur School is providing Playworks $2,000 toward the cost of the program at Arthur Elementary;
    • Drexel University is providing Playworks $30,000 toward the cost of the program at McMichael Elementary and $15,000 toward the cost of the program at Powel Elementary;
    • Powel’s Home and School Association is providing Playworks $ $15,000 toward the cost of the program at Powel Elementary;
    • Berwind Corporation is providing Playworks $30,000 toward the cost of the program at Kearny Elementary;
    • The Netter Center at the University of Pennsylvania is providing Playworks $30,000 toward the cost of the program at Lea Elementary
    • Friends of Jackson School is providing Playworks $15,000 toward the cost of the program at Andrew Jackson Elementary;
    • The Home and School Associations at Bache-Martin, Henry and McCall Schools are each providing Playworks $30,000 ($90,000 total) toward the cost of the program at those three schools;
    • The Home and School Association at Greenfield Elementary is providing Playworks $60,000 toward the cost of the program at Albert M. Greenfield School; and
    • The City of Philadelphia is providing Playworks $180,000 toward the cost of the program at Sheppard School, William Cramp Elementary School and Disston Elementary School.

Below is a step-by-step description of the Playworks program at each school:
• First, Playworks’ coaches organize recess, by establishing specific areas on the playground for games, developing standard rules for behavior and teaching conflict resolution techniques, such as rock/paper/scissors so that students can resolve conflicts on their own.
• Second, coaches work with teachers to provide 45 minutes of game time specifically for their students during the week. This allows students to receive one-on-one attention, enables coaches to reinforce positive social and playground behaviors, and strengthens the student-teacher bond by enabling students to see their teacher in a new “playful” role.
• Third, coaches nurture a cadre of 4th and 5th grade students to serve as Junior Coaches. This peer leadership program has been successful in improving children’s self-esteem, social behaviors and desire to do better in school.
• Fourth, coaches provide high quality after-school programming for 4th and 5th graders, including homework assistance.
• Fifth, coaches run interscholastic sports leagues for 4th and 5th graders in a variety of sports, including co-ed volleyball and all girls’ basketball. These non-competitive teams are designed to build skills, provide children with a team experience and teach good sporting behavior.

In the 2015-2016 school year, Playworks will provide a program model called TeamUp. The purpose is to establish a framework for implementing a socialized recess program while also providing consultative trainings to school staff that will be primarily responsible for running this program at their school. The goal of the program is to establish a culture at recess where play is valued and can positively impact school climate, which is also run by the school staff with the best practices and consultative support of Playworks professionals.

ABC Code/Funding Source $45,000.00 1100-002-7380-1101-3291 ($30,000.00)
1100-002-8410-1101-3291 ($15,000.00)