Testimony of Lynda Rubin to the BOE, January 17, 2019

Concerns For School Board and District for 2019

I’m concerned about the inequity between educational resources being provided to Philadelphia public schools depending on which neighborhood they live in.

I’m concerned about
• the necessity of schools having to individually conduct major fundraising campaigns to pay for essential school resources,
• that the ability to raise such “donation” funds tends to be in those schools with parents and alumni of above average income and political clout, neighborhoods in some stage of gentrification, and those able to create “Friends of” organization – and then watch District administrators and the Mayor glad-hand in front of the cameras as if they had anything to do with restoring the program at hand.

I’m concerned about
• the fact that such fundraising is certainly increasing the divide between have and have-not schools, with schools in poorer and neighborhoods of color falling into the have-not category.
• that even when resources are returned to schools in need, especially those in the SGS process, the funding is only temporary.

I’m concerned about relying more and more on non-educator private businesses to drive our instruction.

I’m concerned about the lack of providing sufficient trauma-informed programs and necessary in-school support staff in all schools to support all of our children, in a City with such extreme poverty and violence –then blaming the schools, teachers and principals for poor climate control and low scores, even closing them against the community’s wishes.

I’m concerned that you don’t recognize the lack of teacher retention is not a marketing problem, but due to Administration’s lack of respect and support, poor working conditions including testing over teaching, class size and, yes, even pay.

I’m concerned about the lack of concern for children and teachers’ health by allowing them to work in toxic buildings you have known or should have known about for years.

I’m especially concerned that the Board seems to be on the same trajectory as the SRC regarding the encroachment of charter schools and the money they suck out of the District. You don’t actively encourage them as did the SRC, but you do in essence, by giving in to extensions and enrollment increases even to failing charters, not following up on revocations for cause and opening new charters – all because you’re afraid of legal costs. We can’t afford new charters, period. Charter organizations and their advocates like PSP have directors making hundreds of thousands of dollars each and spend more on bloated administration than actual education at our expense.

And thus, in the spirit of the State of the Union, usually conducted every January, I believe that without key changes in what you, the Board spends our money on, and doing more than just contracting with private businesses and marketing public schools:

The State Of Public Education in Philadelphia is Neither Strong, Equitable, Nor Sustainable.