The transcript of the testimony of Diane Payne before the SRC November 16th.

diane payne src 8-17-17
Click the picture to view the video of Diane’s testimony.

I am piggy-backing on Mr. Green’s Inquirer opinion piece. It is always amazing how status, experience and backgrounds can result in such divergent thinking on a topic.

Lesson 1: Beware Magical Fiscal Thinking

Mr. Green said, “More quality schools and school choices exist today than when the SRC was created.” Many of those “choices” happen to be charter schools that are languishing in unresolved charter limbo because this SRC has disappeared them from the radar in spite of poor performance in multiple areas.

Mr. Green said, “Though the SRC was activated because of the district’s fiscal problems, it began its tenure without budgetary constraints.”

This district has always had budgetary constraints just look to class size.

Mr. Green said, “If the General Assembly did provide more money for schools, it could reduce funding elsewhere, requiring local governments to increase taxes…”

It is amazing how it becomes a non-issue about having large corporations, businesses, and mega non-profits pay their fair share. One example, Marcellus Shale.

Lesson 2: Credibility and Independence Matter

Mr. Green said, “The most important recent achievements of the SRC were recruiting Superintendent William R. Hite Jr…and his preserving resources….” Almost the total elimination of libraries and librarians can hardly be described as preserving resources but the PFT contract elimination and the subsequent 5-year contract limbo is one way to preserve resources on the backs of the men and women employed by the district.

Mr. Green said, “resources will be well spent…rather than on administration, white-collar patronage, and rewarding unions for support in campaigns.”

White-collar patronage is rampant in the resolutions passed every month by this SRC. Just one example of the influence of big money in the district is through the Philadelphia School Partnership’s massive influence. Of course, the jab at the unions is another jab at the men and women working in our school buildings every day. The PFT protects the rights and working conditions of employees and the children they serve.

Lesson 3: Leverage the Opportunity in Transition

Mr. Green said, “Incoming board members will never have greater leverage to set the district’s fiscal course than before agreeing to serve, especially if they work together.”

I’m wondering how 9 candidates who have not yet been chosen can agree on a course? Unless, there is inside information that is being shared behind the scenes.

Mr. Green said, “I left City Council to serve as chair of the School Reform Commission with a clear purpose in mind: support Superintendent Hite in the work of rebuilding our public schools.”

Since Hite has closed 26 public schools with 3 more a year slated for the next 5 years, it hard to imagine how this can be described as rebuilding our public schools.

It is time for the perspective of the people who live, work and send their children to district schools to have their perspective count.