Robin Lowry testimony to the SRC – December 17, 2015

Robin Lowry

I am happy to see an increase in the money the district spends for fruit and vegetables via its contract with Smart Partners who support local farmers. I’ve seen the effects of the national focus on childhood obesity and healthy eating habits in my position as a Health and PE teacher and a member of Wister’s Wellness Council. Last year Wister received $1500 for crockpots in every classroom. We used fruits and vegetables from this and other programs to make soups, salads and breakfast grains. We were hoping to grow this initiative but I will not give up my lunch time anymore. I have a pictures here 4th grade boys preparing a salad and working on their knife skills.

I would like to also thank the SRC and the School District for giving WIster an opportunity to become a community. By your disrupting our focus, demoralizing our staff, and stressing our parents who now have to worry about what their child’s school will be like next year you have brought us together to speak truth to power and continue to fight for the rights of all. You have also given us opportunities to further enlighten the citizens of Philadelphia of how the rich and their cronies continue to deceive the public and manipulate facts as in our enrollment data to push a political agenda.

I want share my concern regarding two linguistic tricks used in meetings I have attended around the plan for Wister. The first is used when a teacher or other adult supportive of true and traditional public schools is told that “this is not about adults.” At a Wister community meeting presentation Quibbila Divine used this trick. At the District meetings for Wister parents same thing every time a teacher would speak up “this isn’t about adults”, and at a meeting with my own councilperson I was told this “can’t be about adults.” As I described in my support for FRUITS AND VEGETABLES I spend my creative life planning of ways to teach children. Now however to protect my students and their families from brainwashing and boot camp Charter schools and my Germantown community from a Mastery takeover, and myself from being forced out of a career I’ve spent 25 years honing my skills in. However the adults who are supposed to

be finding the best ways to engage students in education are playing a game with the parents, teachers and students. It is about adults not children when the new Superintendent of the Opportunity District Christina Grant was up until July the Superintendent of Great Oaks Charter School that now is the charter planning to takeover Cooke. Cronyism is about adults. Yesterday one of our parents who has stood with teachers at WIster told us that Mastery has offered her a full time job with them. Bribery is about adults not children.

The other statement that is tossed around in these meetings is this insistence that “Charter Schools are public schools.” Quibilla Divine told WIster parents and community members that “charter schools are public schools don’t get confused.” But I’m confused. If they were public then Great Oaks Board would be, well the SRC. If Mastery were truly a public school then why are Mastery schools Teacher Effectiveness data “not available” on the School Progress Report?

A recent PEW study brief issued 2 days ago states that charter schools are given “blanket waivers” from rules governing traditional public schools. Finally I’d like to share the results of an informal survey of parents at Wister during parent conferences. OF the 144 parents who took the survey 86 said they wanted to remain public, 38 wanted a Mastery charter and 15 just wanted more information – only 5 checked they knew of the parent meetings.