Ears on the Board of Education: March 24, 2022
The District principals’ union Teamsters 502 CASA, supported by the PFT, POWER, APPS and other member organizations of OCOS, held a rally on the steps of 440 to tell the Board of Education, as it convened its action meeting, that we will fight against the District’s proposed budget cuts for next school year. That same message was delivered by those who waited for hours to testify, including principals, teachers, and parents. As we have seen in the past, the administration’s budget presentation did not align with the reality of the educators whose resources will be slashed.
It is heartening to see the increasing number of community members attending in person. There is no better way to hold our government officials accountable than to show up to cheer, jeer, hold signs, and clap in support of our public schools. The Board has used the pandemic to elude accountability and increase speaker suppression. Voters in 499 districts in Pennsylvania elect their school board but Philadelphians remain disenfranchised. APPS members will continue to attend in person, and we encourage all defenders of public education to join us.
by Diane Payne
“I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.” James Baldwin
For the second month in a row, the Board of Education denied some members the opportunity to speak on official items and matters of concern. Due to the Board’s arbitrary changes in public speaking policy, an unknown number of people have been silenced. Without public announcement, debate, discussion, or vote, the Board instituted a speaker policy change that caps the number of student speakers at ten and adult speakers at thirty, and reduces speaking time from three minutes to two. Even the School Reform Commission did not resort to outright silencing of the public. The PA Sunshine Act protects citizens’ right to meaningfully participate in their governments and to be heard on all official business. Shocked reaction to this speaker suppression has come from staff, Parents, students, community members, local politicians, the Education Law Center, and the ACLU. Those objections have fallen on the deaf ears of a Board that touts public engagement while silencing the public. APPS and UrbEd, represented by the ACLU, have filed suit to reverse the speaker policy changes in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Sign our petition here to tell the Board: Stop the Suppression of Public Speakers!