Robin Lowry SRC testimony transcript – October 13, 2016

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Robin Lowry Ph.D.

Health and Physical Education

Edison High School

I’m here to give testimony opposing renewal of all Mastery Charter Schools.  Mastery offers nothing new or innovative only firmly enforced rules, they are given contracts through backroom deals, and because before they are given schools those same schools are stripped of resources and personnel students need to succeed.  In other words these students are sacrificed to make a Mastery play.

First, I wish to return to the meeting 2 months ago when Mr. Green was disrespectful and dismissive of Lisa Haver. I worked with Lisa Haver at Roosevelt Middle School in the early years of my career. She is an untiring champion of public schools and public school children who has no career or political agenda other than fighting for fundamental democratic rights of Philadelphia’s students and their families.  That several  commissioners can sit here and question Lisa’s intentions is outrageous.  Ms. Haver does not have any hidden agenda: she is not strategizing for her next appointment.  Whereas Ms. Jimenez and particularly Mr. Green expose their egos and ambition monthly and quite publicly.  And Mr. Green, to ask the public if they noticed Ms. Jimenez’s skin color, is prejudice. To assume skin color is an indicator of negative or positive behavior is prejudice.  In Ms. Jiminez’s case your attitude Mr. Green seems to be ignorant of the role of the collaborator.  Ego, pride, greed, ambition, these are the things that make people operate in duplicitous ways, go against the interests of their own class, culture, or community, not skin color.  Ms. Jimenez’s questionable priorities and alliances are not above scrutiny because she happens to be Latina.

At the last meeting we witnessed testimony about how new tax monies are coming forth for our schools. I fear this money is already being promised to contracts and consultants and buddies in business. Financial transparency for this district is primary.  If you are going to collect more of the taxes due and anticipate even new contributions than the public must see this money going where it is needed. Here’s one idea.In 23 years of teaching in this district I have never had a classroom or gymnasium with a working clock?  Students struggle with analog time – a wall clock is not a priority in families with high mobility and we do know how mobile our students are.  Where is this new tax money going?  It would be nice to have functioning clocks in every classroom in every school, no matter the zip code. Where is all the new tax money that suits in this district are salivating over? Will it go to support children or business buddies and political agendas?

As for Mastery, I live in Germantown and want to work in my community – I first taught at Roosevelt where I worked with Ms. Haver and Ms. Grill, then Gratz and Wister.  Mastery took over these last two. I had a front row seat to watch how the district pulled resources, put in ineffective administrations, and cut staff at these schools to create a narrative of failure.  At Gratz this happened four years after the narrative that Gratz was working miracles – really because the principal knew how to cull testing rolls.  We fell to single digits with the last, weak administration Now Mastery is played up to be genius.  I ran into a Wister parent yesterday and I asked how Mastery was working out for his family.  Because they changed the start time to 30 minutes earlier this Dad had to lose his job because the time was a hardship.  He said the work his student is doing is the same thing he did last year, and the Dad was a little stressed about the emphasis on rules and the threats that if they aren’t followed that his child would have to go to a public school and of course, now the only one that he could go to is really far away for this Germantown family. I have many stories from my former Gratz and Wister students.  They are not happy stories.