Testimony Statement by Lynda Rubin
I had planned to speak about how the District administration academic support staff was being hollowed out to the detriment of real collaborative support with teachers and school staff instead of just directing them on what to do and how to do it. I had also planned to oppose the Memorandum of Understanding with KIPP for $685,000 to provide a College Match program affiliated with KIPP. The MOU also cited expanding this program in Philadelphia in future years. In order to get the account, KIPP promised to offer to more needy students college information that is otherwise only available to students from more advantaged backgrounds. I instead urged the District to restore in-house counselors and college/career advocates to schools who will have a commitment to our District and who will develop resources and contacts with colleges, financial support, etc.
However, I tossed out my original testimony and, frankly, vented loudly in protest to the Board about their following actions (votes):
I was extremely upset by the Board’s vote to renew Math, Civics, Science Charter School, a school that hasn’t performed well for years, necessitating 19 (!) conditions including getting a Special Ed master to overhaul the non-existent program. In addition, Paige Joki from the Education Law Center, testified before the Board voted, that ELC had filed a lawsuit against the school regarding CEO Veronica Joyner’s denying a student’s admission, after the student had been accepted, when the student’s IEP special needs disability plan was discovered. Joyner tried to falsely claim that the student had never been accepted. See Bill Hangley’s article in The Notebook
I was pleased that the Board voted to Not- Renew Aspira, Inc.’s charters for Olney High School and Stetson Middle School which the SRC had voted to not renew several years ago for gross financial improprieties as well as academic, attendance, and organizational failures. However, I was so appalled by the comments of some Board members I generally respect, for voicing “severe reservations” or, in one case actually voting to renew, simply because of the social services the school claimed to be providing to the students. It was as if years of academic failure and basically theft of public dollars to enrich Aspira, Inc. itself, which was proven during 16 days of hearings weren’t sufficient to revoke, I had to speak out. If in fact, the Board is so interested in support services students who are struggling, in part because of their poverty economic status, we have many students in real public schools that deserve them as well.