Testimony of Deborah Grill to the BOE, June 25, 2020

I would like to comment on Items 5, 6, 8 and 49 in context with This Must End Now, a statement from Educators and Scholars of Color Against Failed Educational Reforms. The first paragraph of the statement reads:

“The public is being misled. Billionaire philanthropists are increasingly foisting so-called “reform” initiatives upon the schools that serve predominantly students of color and low-income students, and are using black and brown voices to echo claims of improving schools or advancing civil rights in order to rally community support. However, the evidence to the contrary is clear: these initiatives have not systematically improved student success,/ are faulty by design,/ and have already proven to widen racial and economic disparities. We must heed the growing body of research and support communities and civil-rights organizations in their calls for a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the problems facing our schools,/ a retreat from failed “reforms,” / and better solutions.”
The statement goes on to detail these failed reforms (reforms that are very much in evidence in Philadelphia): the portfolio model of schools; /choice, vouchers and charters;/ the deprofessionalization of teaching, and details what really needs to be done to improve education. So far, over 600 educators and scholars of color have signed this statement.
I have sent each of you an electronic copy of the full statement.

It is important that you read it because you will be voting on items tonight and in the future that incorporate grants from, and programs founded by, the William Penn Foundation, the Philadelphia School Partnership, and the Neubauer Family Foundation— local philanthropic organizations that support the failed corporate reform measures enumerated in the statement.

The William Penn Foundation has used its funds to support the massive closure of public schools as well as to support the corporate ed reform programs Teach PLUS and the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders which was founded by Joseph Neubauer a businessman with not background or experience in educational practice or theory. Yet, he is allowed to experiment with training school principals.

The Philadelphia School Partnership also used its philanthropic funds to advocate for the massive closing of neighborhoods schools a process described so eloquently by PSP spokesman Mark Gleason as “dumping the losers”. PSP grants most often go to charter schools or the few District schools that PSP considers “winners.”

Public education is a civic responsibility, not a business, nor a charity dependent on the kindness of wealthy strangers. Join over 600 Educatiors and Scholars of Color. Decline the philanthropic largesse and reject those failed corporate ed reforms it supports by voting no on Action items 5, 6, 8, 49.