Click the picture above and move the slider to timestamp 43:38 to view Ilene’s testimony.
In June 2015, I along with two other plaintiffs, settled a civil rights lawsuit filed against Commissioner Bill Green, & the City for First and Fourth Amendment violations. I refused to surrender a sign worn around my neck. Commissioner Green banned my sign but allowed KIPP Charter people to wear signs on their t-shirts. All of the settlement money was donated to public school projects. Our lawyer said the case was easy to win because the video that Student Union recorded of the incident, showed that one side was treated differently from the other side. The SRC couldn’t allow one group to have signs on cotton and then ban another group for having a sign on paper.
Today it is clear that treating one side differently from the other is alive and thriving. For instance public schools are closed, transformed quickly without much input from the community. Strawberry Mansion High School will be ‘phased out’ – not shut down according to the new language – in a few years with a ‘few carrots’ for the community – one reason being low enrollment. However, the under enrollment that’s touted as the excuse for this is exacerbated when the district closes the feeder schools like Walton and Hill., reduces resources and spends the money for outsourcing to private companies. Charter schools are seldom, if ever, phased out.
Wister parents were told that their school was taken off the list to become a charter and then at 10:00 pm at the Src meeting, a walk on resolution converted Wister to a charter without the representation of the parents who wanted it to remain public. In contrast Aspira schools that were rated unsatisfactory in organization, finances and academics were able to continue operating for over 2 years.
Public schools know it is normal to have oversight over operations but the so called ‘public’ charter schools resent any oversight over them. The charters call it harassment when the SDP tries make sure that CEOs don’t run off with public money, make sure the charters pay their teachers, make sure that the academic curriculum is actually doing what their marketing offices sell. The SRC and SDP have a legal duty to regulate public money on behalf of Philly’s school children.
Why are we outraged when Abington parents rightly complain about a billionaire wanting naming rights and a say over the curriculum but remain silent when PSP or the Susquehanna Fund do the same thing? Why pretend that these organizations put the interests of students first. There was a lack of transparency in the Abington Board’s maneuvers which began over a year ago while in Philadelphia we have been complaining about the lack of transparency of the SRC for years. We watch the new Nominating Panel’s closed deliberations and violations in the Sunshine Act. Where’s the outrage for Philadelphia opaqueness?
Different treatment for one side from the other side?
(Sung to I Feel Pretty)
City kids get cheated
Neighbors feel defeated
When the district
Shuts down public schools.
for new charter schools. No do-overs either!
Ilene Blitzstein Poses