Click the picture to and go to timestamp 24:10 to view Lynda Rubin’s testimony.
SRC Priorities – Winners & Losers
By Lynda Rubin
Prior to the 1990’s, school districts were cohesive public educational institutions run by professional educators who were versed not only in educational trends but in child cognitive and social/emotional developmental stages as well as the cultural climate in Philadelphia. Teachers and administrators made their life-long careers in the same district, if not the same exact job. Now I’m not saying there weren’t problems, but approaches for correction were made in a more system-wide way and with educators who were in it for the long haul.
Then came the CEO model with the mantra from ed reformers to run school districts like businesses under CEO management. Dave Hornbeck was the first of these. Emphasis was increasing placed on standardized testing results with bonuses given to schools that met goals and professional development was provided rigidly by script and power point presentations. A top down philosophy to say the least.
The State takeover and the SRC, orchestrated by Gov. Ridge and then by Gov. Schweiker was always about giving away District schools and operations to private business supported by foundation money – in those days, Edison and a few other EMOs. It should be noted that neither Edison nor any of those EMOs succeeded in educating better, cheaper or even successfully, here or elsewhere. Interestingly, however, is that with the State takeover, state funding of our schools has decreased dramatically over the years.
Under 17 years of SRC, what I remember most, are fractious upheavals as its leaders and members came and went granting expensive contracts for superintendents amid scandals over attempts to tip the scales to particular contractors, EMOs and/or type of school governance despite parent, community and staff opposition. New initiatives were highly publicized while individual neighborhood schools were increasingly deprived of necessary staff, programs and even basic resources, much less the maintenance of deteriorating physical plants. Trauma-informed needs and development of our students, especially as they impacted students’ ability to learn on a daily basis, were ignored. Neighborhood schools were closed en masse.
The ever-important institutional memory of our school district was lost and purposely stamped out as the SRC turned its sights increasingly to how to administer schools using packaged delivery systems. Process of delivery and outsourcing to private investors, boards and companies became primary tools. Teaching more often became an item on a resume instead of a life-long career.
Worse yet, the SRC seems to ignore or be unable to figure out how to act when such outsourcing yields unacceptably low results. Failed or minimally succeeding schools and programs, especially those with dangerous financial issues are allowed to remain.
So winners? I’m not really sure, but it certainly isn’t publicly run education in Philadelphia.