Testimony of Barbara McDowell Dowdall to the BOE, 11/19/20
Seeing the word “Tradition” automatically suggests singing my remarks to the melody from Fiddler on the Roof, but I will cede that role to my Girls’ High of Philadelphia orchestra mate, Ilene. (Feeling sad today for my APPS colleagues Lisa and Deb on the closing of their alma mater, Hallahan School for Girls.)
School Reform Commission traditions established in their 16 year reign (for those paying attention and attending meetings) fall under a variety of categories:
Started but not maintained: truckloads of new textbooks; staffing high school libraries with Certified Teacher Librarians (CTL’s)—though only for a hot minute.
Initiated and sadly repeated: judging schools on test data alone; assigning them, without consultation, to outside management; shutting them down despite community pleas; handing them over to corporate-funded PR-rich charter entities.
Happily not repeated: abrogation of teacher contract; ordering security to seize protest signs from people attending SRC meeting
Disappointingly continued by Board of Education: out-of-public-view-or-knowledge consultation with charter operators that allow their continued operation– not provided to traditional public schools (is Board member Huang laying groundwork for next set of closures?); unacknowledged association via previous and current superintendents with billionaire Eli Broad associated or trained leadership.
Puzzling Proposed Policy Changes: Policy 141 (elimination to be voted on in a future board meeting) made clear the school district’s continued responsibility for and readiness to resume control of Renaissance Charter schools. Living up to this responsibility would be an appropriate tribute to one who raised this issue: Dr. Chris McGinley, veteran educator and former SRC and Board of Education member who has just– along with all of Philadelphia– lost his father: teacher, principal and principal union leader and family of educators patriarch, Daniel McGinley.
Barbara McDowell Dowdall, 1958 Graduate of 1898 era Edwin H. Fitler School; concrete play yard still in place.