School District of Philadelphia Board of Education Action Meeting Testimony
September 22, 2022
by Diane Payne
Dear President Wilkerson and Board Members,
I am writing today regarding the district’s choice to return to leveling (rebranded as Enrollment-Driven Resource Review). It is telling that the letter sent to staff is not signed by a human but by the generic “Talent Support Services.” When the District sends letters from an office without any name or contact information, the district is adhering to the worst of corporate shielding practices; building walls between yourself and the receiver of your information.
Renaming an abhorrent and harmful practice with four words instead of one is also indicative of bad District practice. Couching your bad practice in more words does not make it less bad.
Framing leveling in edu-jargon also fails to make this worst practice any less bad.
The treachery that underlies the whole package of bringing back leveling and renaming it continues the District and the Board’s tradition of pushing through with a bad idea, slapping fancy names on it, not being honest in how you present it, and pretending you still care about students. This Board spends
hours each month on the edu-jargon of Goals and Guardrails as you claim to student outcomes. The lie of Goals and Guardrails is laid bare with re-instituting leveling. Leveling is all about saving a buck.It is well known and well documented that it is a harmful practice both academically and emotionally to
Be truthful in what you are doing. One suggested truthful statement: we must save money so we must shuffle students and teachers to accomplish that savings. We know it is harmful and wish we didn’t have to do it but we do. This does not make it less harmful but at least it is honest.
Finally, this is strike two for our new Superintendent. Bringing back and rebranding a bad practice lies on his doorstep with your blessing. The Joseph contract will forever be Superintendent Watlington’s first strike and now leveling is his number two strike. As we know, folks in positions of power get lots of strikes and are rarely called out.
“I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.” James Baldwin