Testimony of Diane Payne to the BOE, Deceber 12, 2019

Action Item 31 is an increase of $10,000 to the Philly Plus principal training program. This increases District spending to $100,000. In addition, unspecified additional costs of the program are covered by the Neubauer Foundation and PSP.

Joseph Neubauer made his fortune 500 wealth as the CEO of Aramark. It is not hard to google Aramark and find countless stories of shoddy products and unfair labor practices. Neubauer’s estimated wealth is over $500 million dollars. As a super wealthy retiree, he has established a training program for school principals by way of funneling some of that excessive wealth into a family foundation. Family foundations are a mechanism that the uber wealthy use (after failing to provide life sustaining wages, job protections, and fair benefits) to “fix” the rest of us. There is nothing free in this world. The price tag associated with the Neubauer and PSP largess is the continued inroads to practices that promote corporate agendas and not educational agendas.

Your past voting history as well as last month’s Board members comments suggest that since something is free why not vote for it as a service to our kids. But when you fail to take a stand about corporate inroads into what should be a public domain and you fail to put pedagogy and child development concerns at the heart of every vote, you are not acting in the best interest of students.

Last month you voted to approve Action Item 7 with Attuned Education partners for refining the PreK-3 curriculum. Once again money and space were approved for a company loaded in the corporate reform model. I come from a Kindergarten background. I will say again, what we are doing to our 5-year olds is child abuse. There is absolutely NO research that supports the academic drill and kill that we inflict on our children. 5-year olds will never get that year back. That year without play and joy and song and dance. Go into any kindergarten and I dare you to find the housekeeping center, the easels, the sand box, the big blocks. I also dare you to find the big books that are leveled for the teaching of beginning reading skills. What you will find is Saxon Phonics along with its workbook pages. You can be sure your vote for Attuned will ensure a doubling down on the abuse inflicted on our beginning learners.
Finally, scheduling the only hearing that allows public testimony on the new charter school applications on a holiday weekend is community disengagement! 4:00 on Friday is the beginning of the weekend.