Supporters of public education testify before the SRC at the September 14th meeting

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Click on the above picture to view the testimony of speakers at the September 14, 2017 meeting of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. Click on the timestamps (the numbers at the end of each name) to view specific speakers at the meeting.

Note: The problem with the camera angle and interruptions in the field of view are due to placement of the camera. The SRC has confined our camera to a “press box” which is located in the middle of the audience thus the quality of the video.

Note: The video will not load using Firefox.


These are the transcripts of some APPS members’ testimony at the SRC meeting in order of their appearance.

Click here to read Debbie Grill’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Lynda Rubin’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Ilene Poses’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Lisa Haver’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Alison McDowell’s SRC testimony transcript posted on her Wrench in the Gears blog.

Click here to read Diane Payne’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Barbara Dowdall’s SRC testimony transcript.

Click here to read Karel Kilimnik’s SRC testimony transcript.

Eyes on the SRC: September 14, 2017

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by Karel Kilimnik
September 10, 2017

As students flock back to school this September we see a more modest list of resolutions. The list may be small but the implications loom large. How does a large district ensure that every school has what it needs? These resolutions illustrate the chasm of inequality among the city’s schools. Some are chosen to benefit from private funders such as the Philadelphia School Partnership while others still lack the basics of a stable workforce of teachers and principals. This is in no small part due to a Broad-graduate led administration that promotes a portfolio of options instead of ensuring every school has what it needs.

Please keep in mind that for the past five years, Dr. Hite has announced his latest transformation/turnaround plan in October. He has stated, at SRC meetings and in City Council, that he wants to close three schools a year over the next five years. A resolution usually pops up in October which indicates in some way, usually not in detail, his plans to close or “transform” a school. Internal turnarounds, however, do not have to be approved by the SRC; those always result in forced transfers of most faculty and often principals. That includes Transformation, Redesign, and others that are placed in the Turnaround Network. Last year Hite targeted eleven schools as “Priority Schools” causing much transition and confusion as teachers and principals were forced out of their school communities. The only resolution put before the SRC was one to approve a $200,000 contract with Cambridge Education for writing a report after holding meetings and performing nominal site visits. The previous year Hite placed three schools into the Renaissance Charter School program over the wishes of parents and community members. Three years ago, parents at Steel Elementary in Nicetown and Munoz-Marin in Fairhill voted down Hite’s move to give their schools over to charter providers. Who is on his hit list for the 2018-19 school year? APPS has prepared a tip sheet for how to protect your school. Start organizing now.

The New Teacher Project (TNTP – A3) continues to feed at the public trough. How much more money is going down this rabbit hole to support a private company using faulty data and flawed research ?

Artwork (B9 ) swiped from district schools over 10 years ago by then-CEO Paul Vallas is now on display at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown through January 12, 2018. This artwork was bought decades ago for the students in this district, and it still belongs to them. The SRC should vote to return it to the district schools as soon as possible.

The Camelot company (A17) gets a really good deal on renting space at the former ES Miller School to operate a program for “over-aged middle school students”. According to community activist Alicia Dorsey, there was an effort to insert Camelot into Strawberry Mansion High School without any notification to the school community. At their request, APPS members attended a meeting called by Assistant Superintendent Eric Becoates at the school in August. Becoates refused to answer a question put to him several times: Is Camelot moving into Strawberry Mansion?

(See the August 17th Ears: Parent(Pseudo)Engagement) Former Strawberry Mansion High School principal Linda Cliatt Wayman, in her August 17 SRC testimony, thanked Dr. Hite for not putting Camelot into her former school. Hite made no response either confirming or denying. The question now: Is the program at ES Miller the one intended for Strawberry Mansion or is it simply a coincidence?

WHAT IF…?

The district stopped giving contracts to TNTP for unnecessary and redundant professional development and turnaround training and instead used that money to restore certified school librarians to the district?

Next SRC Action Meeting: Thursday, September 14, 4:30 PM. To testify, call 215-400-4180 before 3 PM the day before.

Click here to read the entire post.

APPS News: August 2017

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by Karel Kilimnik
August 31, 2017

It’s been a busy summer for education activists. APPS members have:

  • Responded to the challenges posed by the new District website
  • Appealed the District’s response to our Right To Know request for information about the secret meetings held between District staff and charter school operators over a 6-month period this year
  • Produced our regular editions of Eyes and Ears on SRC meetings
  • Worked with members of the Strawberry Mansion High community to get information about a possible co-location of an outsourced program at the school

Disappearing Documents

On August 1, without any prior public notification, the District posted a new website. The previous site was taken down, and information about charter evaluations, individual schools and SRC history were nowhere to be found. Minutes and Resolutions from SRC meetings from 2001 to 2016 were gone. The entire page on Dr Hite’s prized System of Great Schools disappeared. We were unable to contact the Director and Assistant Director of the Communications Office as they were both on vacation the week the new website made its debut. We were able to speak off the record with some SRC staff members, but no one could give us a definite answer on when—or if—that information would be restored. First we were told October, then January 2018. Dr. Hite, in his first remarks on the subject at the August 17 SRC meeting, said that all information would be restored by “Spring 2018”. Is this the SRC’s idea of transparency and community engagement?

Several APPS members raised concerns about the disappearance of public information by a government agency at the August 17 SRC meeting. Dr Hite actually responded to Lisa Haver’s question by stating that the “district was interested in restoring information and would appreciate feedback about what is missing, how users’ experiences can be improved and what is not working well.” Email him at hite@philasd.org.

Because of the pressure from APPS members, we have seen much of the information about SRC history restored. We will continue to monitor the website.

 APPS Files Right to Know on Secret Meetings with Charter Supporters

Click here to read the rest of the post.

Call Mayor Kenney and ask him to support abolition of the SRC

APPS is a member of the Our Cities Our Schools (OCOS) coalition of about 18 grassroots organizations that is calling for the abolishment of the School Reform Commission (SRC). The SRC was IMPOSED on Philadelphia by the state in 2001 as the governing structure of our city’s schools. With the loss of our own school board, we became the only school district out of 499 in the Commonwealth to have NO local control. The financial and academic success promised by this Harrisburg raid has never occurred. What has occurred is a silencing of the voices of the citizens of Philadelphia. We are asking that you take a few minutes to call Mayor Kenney and ask him to publicly support the Our Cities Our Schools timeline to abolish the SRC. There is a sense of urgency motivated by the next election cycle. You can go to the website listed on the attachment for more information and to sign a petition in favor of abolishing. Thank you for your support.

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