Robin Lowry SRC testimony – April 28, 2016

Robin Lowry pic SRC 4-28-16
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Good Evening to All.

A behavioral specialist at Wister today said, “You can’t scale-up Warm and Fuzzy.”  Low-performing and vulnerable students, with lives filled with uncertainty, violence and neglect need schools with a culture of caring like she said we have at Wister. They don’t need a dictatorial culture with high staff turnover, they need experienced teachers, not scripted novices. Poverty is not an excuse to degrade, politicize, or criminalize the most vulnerable students’ education.

I’m not optimistic about tonight’s vote.  I’m resigned that 3 more public school with unionized staff and poor children will be given to carpetbagging Charter schools.  What is best for children is not considered.  All 3 charters are proven failures. Mastery though, has the Master Plan to run schools for the most vulnerable students in Philly, Camden and beyond, using vulnerable students and families, wooing them with food, T-shirts and gift cards, turning them into cheerleaders for the Mastery Brand, they cheer for for their own disenfranchisement.

No one at this table admonishes Mastery for bullying tactics. You don’t care that Mastery doesn’t educate students well or create happy students. This is market-based Education reform – ugly competition, an ideological war not based on sound Educational Pedagogy, and a well funded Public Relations campaign with a few loud cheerleaders.

The saga of Wister will go down as a textbook example. The district used untruths, I’ll be polite and not call them lies, to make a case for Mastery. Enrollment data was distorted.  Achievement Data disregarded. Meetings disrupted by thugs. Resources and staff taken away, crowded classrooms, angry parents all orchestrated and tolerated by the people who labeled Wister a failure. Still Wister students worked hard and made progress but it counts for nothing in this weird moment in Education History. Educational Pedagogy and Child Psychology denied, like some autodidactic climate deniers.

The essence of schooling – relationships – disregarded.  Disrespect of the foundation of education all part of a political agenda of a few Commissioners and our Superintendent and the financiers of this agenda, who call the shots. Privatizing public schools and getting rid of union workers meets their goals.  Teacher turnover, just an inconvenience on the path to total disruption.

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