Testimony of Lisa Haver to the BOE, July 23, 2020

My name is Lisa Haver. I am a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.

There will be one hot minute—literally one minute—between the first group of speakers and the second when the Board will vote, in 2 or 3 blocks, on 26 Action Items. The reopening plan, #15, is just one of them. The Board did not post the cost of that plan, which according to Dr. Hite, will run between $60 and 80 million. The rest of the items add up to another $90 million, for a total of $160 million. That does not include the $1.7 million in grants and donations from foundations including Neubauer, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Wm Penn foundations, all of whom have played a major part in the corporate disruption of public education in this city and others.

APPS urges students, educators, and parents to pay close attention to the contracts approved by the Board tonight. The Board did not post the agenda until Monday afternoon, 3 days before this meeting. There were no July committee meetings at which to discuss any of the items. The Board and the administration know that the decision about reopening school buildings is a life-and-death one. But we cannot allow the Board to quietly and with little deliberation change the course of teaching and learning with these expensive contracts. We cannot let individuals and corporations to profit off of this crisis.

Item 20 presents just one example. The Board is voting to accept $265K from Gates and Wm Penn Foundations to pay the Partners in Innovation company to “transform” a number of District schools, although this amount only pays for a fraction of this program. The Item says that
“Partners in School Innovation will also continue to provide intensive on-site school level support to three participating schools through targeted professional development.”
What does on-site mean right now? How will this work?

This is not the time for the Board to hurriedly rubber-stamp questionable contracts for services that the District cannot use. The Board promised months ago to only consider ESSENTIAL items during this crisis. Perhaps the Board was hoping we would forget that promise. But we did not, and they have an obligation to consider only what is truly essential. The Board should table all non-essential items on this agenda and concentrate on protecting the health and safety of our students and educators.

Thank you.