This week, APPS sent the following letters regarding the Board of Education’s speaker policy to mayor Kenney and each member of Philadelphia City Council:
April 14, 2021
On behalf of the members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, we are writing to ask that you take a stand against the Board of Education’s silencing of the public at its public meetings.
Over the past three months, the Board has imposed a succession of changes in their official speaker policy designed to silence their critics. The Board has, for the first time in District history, implemented an arbitrary cap of thirty adult speakers and ten student speakers. No matter how many official items are on the agenda, or which urgent issues arise—closing of schools for lead and asbestos toxicity, reopening schools during the COVID crisis, for example—the number of speakers will remain capped, preventing members of the public from being heard.
The Board has also imposed a two-minute limit on all speakers. No other governmental body, including City Council, cuts speakers off after two minutes. This new policy makes it difficult to present a coherent argument for or against any official item. It also reduces the number of issues any one speaker can address.
The Board has also made it more difficult for people to submit written testimony and to have that testimony heard during Board meetings.