Ears on the Board of Education: February 27, 2020

by Diane Payne

Board Rejects Three New Charter Applications

When we organize and fight, we can win.  By unanimous vote, the Board rejected applications from High School of Health Sciences Charter and String Theory/Joan Myers Brown. APPS wrote an analysis of the applications and the forces behind them, after attending all hearings and researching the corporate and political connections behind them. The Kensington Health Sciences Academy–principal, teachers, parents and students–wrote commentaries and showed up at Board meetings to urge the District to support their neighborhood school rather than cripple it with charter competition.

APPS  attends and reports on every meeting conducted by the Board of Education, as we did with the School Reform Commission before it.  Often, APPS members provide the only public eyes and ears witnessing and reporting on decisions and spending that affect our city’s schools.  This month, the outsourcing to unaccredited institutions and corporate edu-vendors continues the policies and practices of the SRC. The Board awarded contracts to Teach for America and Relay Graduate School of Education (not accredited in this state) for teacher recruitment, and the DMG group for administrative consulting.  These edu-vendors maintain a deep connection to charter schools and corporate disruptors of public education. Either blind to or unconcerned about that connection, the Board approved a total expenditure of $2,651,000 for these Items alone. The Board postponed the Action Item allotting $2 million to the edu-vendor SchoolKit.

(Read the reports by the late Ken Derstine, a founding APPS member, on billionaire Eli Broad’s efforts to disrupt and dismantle public education:  Who is Eli Broad? & More on Broad in Philadelphia)

Click here to read the rest of the report

Eyes on the Board of Education: February 27, 2020

by Karel Kilimnik

If privatization and outsourcing are truly innovative, why don’t we see more of that in affluent suburbs like Lower Merion? As we review the list of Items the Board will consider at its next Action Meeting, there seems to be no end to the contracts with private vendors to take on work traditionally done by District staff. Companies that have been the lifeblood of the corporate disruption movement like Teach for America are now  joined by newer players Relay Graduate School of Education (which, as Board Member Chris McGinley reminds his colleagues, is not really a graduate school and is not accredited in Pennsylvania) and the District Management Group, hired to perform tasks formerly done by District Staff (Items 15, 16, 17). Dr Hite sent a letter to all District staff last week imploring District staff to aid in recruitment efforts under his “Teach Today. Change Tomorrow” initiative.  Why is he recommending spending $325,000 on TFA Recruitment if this campaign was just launched? Hundreds of thousands have been spent on teacher recruitment in the past three years–where are the results? Is the push for TFA an indication that that recruitment effort failed? The Board does not have to take on the rubber-stamp function of the SRC. The Board can take a stand and restore teacher recruitment and professional development to the District.

Dr Hite, a 2003 graduate of the business-oriented Broad Superintendents Academy, continues to outsource rather than build internal structures and capacity. The primary belief by the Billionaire Boys Club, of which Eli Broad is a member (note more details under #15,Contract with Teach for America to Support Teacher Hiring $325,000)), are described succinctly by Curmudgucation blogger Peter Greene “… Broad does not believe that schools have an education problem; he believes they have a management problem. School leadership does not need an infusion of educational leadership–they need business guys, leadership guys….there is no external governing or certifying board of any sort declaring that the Broad Superintendent’s Academy is a legitimate thing, and yet, it exists and thrives.”

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Defenders of Public Education Speak Before the BOE, December 12, 2019


Click on the individual’s name to read a transcript of his or her testimony.

Nimet Eren on Proposed Health Sciences Leadership Charter School

Jenifer Felix on Proposed Health Sciences Leadership Charter School

Lisa Haver on the Board’s Gifts to Charter Schools

Karel  Kilimnik on Community Disengagement

Kristin Luebbert on Anti-Racist Training

Maddie Luebbert on Proposed Health Sciences Leadership Charter School

Barbara McDowell Dowdall on Board Practices

Diane Payne on the Corporate Influence in Action Items

Robin Roberts on the Access Program

Lynda Rubin on the Outsourcing of District Responsibilities

Susan Wienand on Proposed Health Sciences Leadership Charter School