Good Afternoon Board members and Dr. Hite, my name is Kristin Luebbert, a member of Racial Justice Organizing, the PFT, Caucus of Working Educators, and a Philadelphia teacher who has worked about 25 unpaid hours beyond my contracted time this week.
I am here this afternoon to urge you to vote NO on action item 22: spending 1 million 700 thousand dollars on Canvas Learning Management Platform.
There are several reasons I think this is a foolish and unwarranted expenditure at this time.
First of all, I am sure the people who put this item on the agenda believe it is necessary, but no one thought to engage with the main users of these platforms–that is teachers and students and families– to ask them what they needed and wanted in a learning management system. Like so many things in this district, this is just another system imposed from above–with nary a thought of IF and how it will be used or how effective or ineffective it may be.
Secondly, the district states that “The Learning Management Platform will be strategically introduced in middle and high schools this school year and elementary schools in school year 21-22. At the end of implementation, all grades across all schools will have access to the Platform.” There are at least two problems with this plan: Teachers, students, and families are currently BEYOND capacity in their ability to learn and process new systems. Our metaphorical bandwidth is stretched beyond all reasonable expectations. Our students are just getting comfortable with platforms we have been using since September, and to ask them to switch now would amount to educational malpractice. The second problem is that giving people “access to” a platform does not mean they will use it. There is no sense in spending almost two million dollars on a system that many will be unable or unwilling to use.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, according to your own repeated declarations: the district is in a financial crisis and cannot afford to “spend money it does not have”. As long as you are even broaching the subject of school closures and depriving your most important workers of their earned steps and lanes, you have NO business spending money on duplicate and unneeded systems like Canvas. This board has already asked to be allowed to renege on its current financial obligations (payments to the Health & Welfare Fund), so you should not be committing this district to spend any more money on superfluous items like Canvas.
In conclusion, I’d like to share the first article from a public petition written by rank and file PFT members, including members of the Caucus of Working Educators, which spells out exactly what conditions would make it safe to return to school buildings:
Kristin – speaker #15 – Article #1
- 𝗔 𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗡 𝗙𝗢𝗥 𝗔𝗗𝗘𝗤𝗨𝗔𝗧𝗘 𝗦𝗤𝗨𝗔𝗥𝗘 𝗙𝗢𝗢𝗧𝗔𝗚𝗘 𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗙𝗙𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗧𝗢 𝗦𝗨𝗣𝗣𝗢𝗥𝗧 𝗦𝗔𝗙𝗘 𝗗𝗜𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗡𝗖𝗜𝗡𝗚 at each school, as recommended by the (PFT) and the National Council on School Facilities as 44 sq ft per person¹. Additional staff must be hired in order to enable social distancing for students with different learning needs, younger students, and to alleviate severe overcrowding.
These are the crucial items we should be spending our limited funds on.