Testimony of Diane Payne to the BOE, November 21, 2019

The toxic school’s news cycles are exposing more and more asbestos and lead in our school buildings.   In addition, it is exposing – once again – a breach in trust and honesty.  Inquirer reports on Ben Franklin/SLA and Pierce exposed information which the District possessed but didn’t share either publicly or seemingly with this Board.  Notably, this Board has not addressed this discrepancy between information possessed and information shared.  Nor has any 6-figure salaried administrator been held accountable.

The toxic conditions of lead and asbestos pose imminent and long-term danger to staff and students but other toxic choices embedded in Board Action Items pose long-term harm and short-term abuse of both students and staff as well.  I am referring here to Action Item 7 the contract with Attuned Education Partners for support in refining the PK-3 Literacy Framework.

Have the members of the Board read the bios on the “team” of Attuned?  Are you familiar with the entwined ties the Attune team has to the corporate education model?  Every single team member hales from the reform world of: Broad Academy, TFA, Relay Graduate School, Uncommon Schools, and KIPP.  For those bios which even mention classroom teaching experience, no number of years are shared.  But every single bio is replete with non-profits, charter schools, and city hopping administrative positions which are all hallmarks of those who identify as experts even though they lack actual classroom experience, pedagogical background, or child development degrees.  Attune was founded in 2016 so we are entrusting curriculum help to a 3-year-old company.

PreK to 3rd grade are crucial years for getting developmentally appropriate practices in place.  The District is currently failing our youngest students with expectations labeled as “high” but in reality, they are inappropriate and harmful.  Our youngest students in trauma take classrooms by storm as they battle not only their personal demons but the demons placed on them in classrooms set for torture not nurture.  Our staff has no choice but to implement every new reform that administration dictates.

Please Vote NO on this further expenditure to a company that will only compound the district’s early education mistakes.  Please explore the links I have included on crusaders who understand and advocate for young children.  The Board needs to instruct administration to use their own K to 3 teachers to begin a much-needed transformation to developmentally appropriate curriculum.   We are trying to construct Philly’s  K to 12 building on a faulty foundation and minus a tax abatement.