Transcript of the testimony of Deborah Grill

Deborah Grill sRC 4-27-17
Click the picture to see Debbie’s testimony. She is at timestamp 3:10.

I know that Dr. Hite will soon be announcing his decision on the fate of the 6 Priority Schools. I understand that one of the options is to partner the school with one of 10 organizations approved by the district. Most of the founders or team members of these organizations have little to no classroom experience. Most of the experience of those who do, consists of a few years in TFA or in charter schools.     They all talk about the future of learning using popular ed reform terms like entrepreneurship, thought-partnering, innovation, disruption.

Entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship and education mix like oil and water. Entrepreneurial enterprises thrive in cutthroat competition with high profits as the endgame. Education thrives with collaboration.

Thought partnering? Is that like the Vulcan Mind Meld?

Innovation? Charter schools were supposed to be laboratories of innovation, but have produced very little of it.

Disruption? Well disruption is one strategy that seems to be a constant in public education in Philadelphia.   Over the past 2 decades, disruption has been the status quo as unproven strategies are implemented: schools are closed, staff is transferred, curricula is changed, and new charters are opened until the only constant in the district is instability.

Parent have had enough of disruption. What I heard at the Priority School community meetings I attended was a loud plea for stability and a seat at the decision making table. Parents wanted a safe, healthy, stable environment in which their children could learn. They wanted smaller class size. They wanted the district to invest in restoring the class offerings, resources and teaching and support positions ( classroom aides, NTA’s, counselors) that had been cut over the course of the last decade. I didn’t hear anyone ask for the services of an outside consultant.

Parents know that student’s can’t benefit from innovation in unsafe, unstable environments. You should be using the funding you have to restore stability to each school. You can’t put the cart before the horse and expect to move forward.