Ears on the Board of Education: November 19, 2020

by Diane Payne

Board President Joyce Wilkerson opened this remote Action Meeting with praise and thanks to the University of Pennsylvania for its $100 million donation–$10 million over the next 10 years–toward the abatement of lead and asbestos in District schools.   

For years, public school advocates have fought to have Penn and other large non-profit institutions to pay at least part of their fair share of taxes on their profit-making properties through PILOTS (Payment in lieu of taxes). 

That fight has escalated as the District faces dire budget projections as a result of loss of tax revenues during the pandemic. Is there no other way for the District to pay for fixing toxic schools other than taking charity?  APPS’ recent report on Renaissance charter schools shows that the District spends hundreds of millions every year to sustain a program that has not, by any metric, been a success in improving schools.  (In just one example, the District allocated $30 million last year to Aspira, Inc. to operate two Renaissance charters–even after the Board voted not to renew after they failed to meet all standards.) Penn has a  $15 billion endowment.  Paying its full share of taxes would have Penn paying approximately $100 million per year.  Advocates have estimated that PILOTS would  produce 40% of that,  or close to $40 million per year.  The District and the media may paint Penn as generous, but the reality is they are getting off cheap.  Advocates vow to keep the pressure on Penn and the other mega nonprofits in the city to do their part and pay their fair share.

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APPS Urges Board to Reject City Health Director’s Reopening Recommendations

by Lisa Haver

Update: the Hite administration has scrapped its reopening plan for the foreseeable future. When the issue comes up again for reconsideration, possibly in Spring 2021, APPS will reissue this statement. 

Members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools call on the Board of Education and the Hite administration to stop following recommendations from City Health Director Thomas Farley on sending back students and staff to District buildings. 

The inconsistencies of Dr. Farley’s statements since July demonstrate his failure to present an honest assessment of the dangers of reopening school buildings. No one disputes that face-to-face instruction would be better, but we cannot endanger the lives of teachers and their students, nor those of their families.

To read the rest of the statement click here.

Defenders of Public Education Speak before the BOE, October 22, 2020

Click on the title to read the transcript of the speaker’s testimony.

Teaching and Learning

Board Devaluation of Effective Teaching, Learning, and Health by Rachel Boschen

Signature U.S. Education Initiatives by Barbara McDowell Dowdall

Policy Changes

Do Not Eliminate Renaissance Charter Policy 141 by Deborah Grill

Board Must Not Deregulate Renaissance Charters by Lisa Haver

Changes to Renaissance Charter Policy 141 by Karel Kilimnik

Consequences of Changes to the Wellness Policy and Policy 141 by Robin Lowry

Outsourcing

Board Spending on Contract with Playworks by Jennifer Byiers

Vote NO on Canvas Learning Management Platform by Kristin Luebbert

Against Outsourcing Equity Work by Maddie Luebbert

School Reopening and Charter Renewals

NEBB Certification– Credentials and Reports? [Ventilation] by Diane Payne

What is the Rush to Renew Keystone Charter? by Ilene Poses

Ears on the Board of Education: October 22, 2020

by Diane Payne

This month’s Board of Education Action Action Meeting featured administration PowerPoints that again failed to reflect the experiences and needs of those on the ground.  Many of the seventy-four registered speakers testified to this lack.  The Hite administration now requires Pre-K to Grade 2 staff to return to buildings on November 9th to prepare for the return of students on November 30th–in spite of still incomplete ventilation reports.  COVID’s main form of transmission is through the air.  People of color are statistically more likely to contract and to die from the illness.  Many older District buildings with asbestos, mold and lead were unsafe for children and adults  before COVID.  Now staff, students, families, and community members are being asked to trust that the District gets this right.  The neglect of the District has caused the illness and impending death of one teacher (that we know of) from mesothelioma.  Failure this time will have immediate and devastating consequences.

Present

The Board is down to six of the nine required members.  Chris McGinley resigned in April, 2020, but Mayor Kenney has yet to reconvene his Nominating Panel.

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