Testimony of Lisa Haver to the BOE, March 25, 2021
Schools are not charities and our children are not charity cases. When the Board rubber-stamps grants from the Fund for the School District, the Board can claim to practice equity while allowing a private entity to make funding decisions and set priorities. I urge the Board to vote no on Action Item 5.
The Board has banned 4 APPS members from speaking tonight. Although no one will admit to make these decisions publicly, all Board members, through their silence, are complicit. Especially disappointing is the silence from Mr. Streater who serves as VP of the Philadelphia ACLU, and the silence from Ms. Thompson, who for years was able to speak for three minutes on any topics she chose and for a full 3 minutes. That was not for her benefit but for ours. We all benefited from hearing Ms. Thompson’s concerns. She must now make sure that the First Amendment rights of all of her constituents are protected. It cannot be only the well-funded, the well-organized and the politically connected who are able to be heard. It must also be the parents, students, educators and community members. It must be the members of the grass-roots organizations whose challenges to authority mean that they are not the beneficiaries of big donors and foundations. APPS and UrbEd, represented by the ACLU, have filed suit in the Court of Common Pleas. The Board cannot become an authoritarian force in the city that is the birthplace of American democracy.