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Universal gets go-ahead to run Creighton

By Paul Socolar on Jun 1, 2012 05:06 PM

[Updated, 9:30 p.m.] After hearing passionate testimony Friday afternoon for two competing proposals to overhaul Creighton Elementary School in the Lower Northeast, the School Reform Commission came down on the side of Universal Companies. They voted 4-0 in favor of the recommendation by School District staff to authorize Universal to submit a proposal to manage the school as a charter starting in the fall.

The commission decided not to pursue an alternative plan for a teacher-led turnaround at the school, though they had earlier tabled the staff recommendation in order to investigate that proposal. Commissioners did express interest in further exploration of the teacher-led approach.

Universal already runs four former District schools that have been converted to charters through the Renaissance Schools initiative, as well as one traditional charter.

Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky said it was a difficult decision and applauded the teachers' initiative but agreed with Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon's memo from earlier this week that the teacher plan had too many deficiencies.

"The fact that the teachers came forward with their proposal is a great thing, and I admire them," Dworetzky said before casting his vote. But he said the teacher-led plan is not, "at least at this point, something that is in the best interest of the school and the children and parents of the school. That leaves us with the Universal proposal, or the other alternative, which is to do nothing. And I’m really not satisfied with the do-nothing proposal."

Three teachers, two students, and a parent from Creighton spoke fervently in favor of the teacher-led turnaround approach, and three parents and a grandparent were equally vigorous in their support for charter conversion under Universal.

Teacher Regina Feighan-Drach led off the group making a final pitch for teacher-led turnaround and said "time played a key role" in not being able to answer all the concerns raised by the District. She said the charter operators competing to manage Creighton got started in January, whereas she had to craft the teachers' proposal in only four days. Yet, she claimed, "the Universal proposal has the same deficiencies."

Universal was initially the second choice of most of the parents who sat on the School Advisory Council at Creighton. But those who spoke in favor of Universal angrily rejected the assertion of teachers that Universal had wined and dined them to win their support.

"We were totally with the teachers. This is not against them," said Lillian English Hentz, a guardian of a Creighton student, who said she had developed concerns about the teacher proposal and now supported Universal. "I’m a grandmother trying to raise a child. I do not feel at this time that the teachers have the ability to administer as well as teach."

After the vote, the proponents of the teacher-led option left the audience in tears. Teacher Llyn Carter, dean of students and a 23-year veteran who called Creighton "my second home," said she would have to find a job somewhere else next year.

"I can’t stay. I’m too expensive - I’m a senior teacher," she said. Carter added that she has health issues and is concerned that if she worked for Universal she would not be able to maintain the benefits she gets under the teachers' union contract.

Clearing the way for a favorable vote on the staff recommendation, Universal earlier this week concluded an agreement with the District under which they will pay a "license fee" at two of their schools. The fee totaling $500,000 next year is for utilities, maintenance, and facilities services provided by the District at the schools that Universal assumed control of last fall, Audenried High School and Vare Middle School. Universal has been receiving those services from the District for free this year, according to Thomas Darden, who runs the District's charter school office.

Universal had an understanding with the administration of former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman that it would not pay a license fee for the two schools, Darden said. Negotiations about a fee started in January.

"The challenge we had in reaching this business deal was to look at what their budget was for this year and the agreement they believed that they had, given the small budgets of these small schools," he said. "Given that we are 11 months into the school year, they had expended that budget."

Darden said the $500,000 fee "does not cover our costs, but we believe it is a fair amount."

The School District had previously acknowledged that it was subsidizing some facilities costs at Audenried and Vare but had not identified exactly which costs. Darden said he was unable to immediately provide a figure for the costs to the District of facilities and maintenance personnel and utilities at the two schools.

In a written statement, Universal applauded the SRC vote on Creighton. “Universal is proud to welcome the parents, students & staff to the Universal Family of Schools," the statement said. "We are excited and look forward to educating the children in a loving, holistic and nurturing environment, which we embody as the Universal Way. In addition, we wait the opportunity to establish a great relationship with the families, staff and neighboring community of the Creighton School.”

In other business, the Commission renewed, by a 3-1 vote, the charter of Eastern University Academy Charter School, a grade 7-12 charter school in East Falls, for a five-year term. Commissioner Dworetzky was the lone vote against renewal. He said that given the school's low score of 8 on the District's school performance index, a one-year renewal would have been "a more prudent course."

Additional reporting by Katie McCabe.

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Comments (236)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:12 pm

This should be the final nail in our coffin BEFORE WE strike back. Giving anything to Gamble considering what a low life he is and how much money he owes the city, is the end of the line. The low level of credibility is exposed now for all to see. How embarrassing is this and right in our face!!!!! Is anybody there??? Does anybody care??

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:15 pm

I, like many others, am disappointed in what I have seen happen with Creighton. The SRC should put on hold the whole idea of turning Creighton over to any "charter operator."

It would serve the best interests of Creighton's students, parents and community to keep the school as as a regular public school.

They should replace the principal and allow the teachers and parents to form a site selection team and choose their own principal in a collaborative manner. They should choose a principal who understands collaborative leadership and community building.

Penny Nixon should use this opportunity to show how she can lead a collaborative effort and show how a school can be turned around through "balanced autonomy" and a collaborative partnership.

It will give Penny the opportunity to "model the way" and show what she can do as a collaborative leader. The SRC chose her as our Chief Academic Officer so they should let her lead and have high expectations for her.

There are just too many issues there and many of them are serious legal issues. There are also serious issues about Universal's capacity to meet the needs of Creighton's students and Creighton's community.

What was clear from last night's SRC meeting is that Trust and Credibility are on the line. Once leaders lose that in the eyes of their followers, they can never get it back. Of that I am sure from many years of experience and my years of research-based study of effective leadership and ineffective leadership.

I for one have stated publicly my trust in the New SRC. I sincerely hope my trust is not misplaced. I sit here saddened by what I see and read and urge the SRC to rethink Creighton.

There are several ways the school can be led and governed collaboratively and the SRC should explore them and facilitate their development.
Great leadership is a "Why can't we?" game. This is an opportunity to answer that question. This is an opportunity to turn a school around through a collaborative model and the 'We of leadership."

Why can't We?

Submitted by anon (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:41 pm

sorry rich, but the fix was in. no going back now...they obviously are willing to be battered by public opinion to keep moving in the direction they've been ordered to.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:47 pm

Anon--You are so right. Talking sense with logic and class is laughed at by these cretins. The time is now for radical reaction---by any means necessary.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:02 pm

It would serve the best interests of Creighton's students, parents and community to keep the school as as a regular public school.

They should replace the principal and allow the teachers and parents to form a site selection team and choose their own principal in a collaborative manner. They should choose a principal who understands collaborative leadership and community building.
Rich, I completely agree with your suggestion. My only question is did Creighton have full site selection? I checked the vacancy list of the District ( but, logically, Creighton isn't on there. If Creighton was such an underperforming school, wouldn't it have had full site selection?

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:58 pm

I do not know. Does anyone else on our team know the answer to your question?

The only thing I know is that in my life whenever I coached a Team, and I gave a player, a student, or a teacher a challenge, they always seemed to rise to the occasion.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:46 pm

Creighton wasn't on list because it was a done deal!!!!!!!!!!!!! Take over by charter meant no need for openings.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:51 pm

I was thinking about my own question and was wondering maybe that at each school, the PFT members could vote for full site selection? Anybody know?

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:29 pm

In response to KR and you, I just wanted to insert these quotes about trust which come from my favorite book on leadership: "Encouraging the Heart" by Kouzes and Posner.

Irwin Federman, a venture capitalist and CEO of computer chip-maker Monolithic Memories once said, "Trust is a risk game. The leader must ante up first."

Kouzes and Posner found in their studies. "The element of trustworthiness is essentially a basic necessity of effective leadership."

In one study they found that, of all the behaviors describing effective leadership, "The most important single item was the leader's display of trust in others."

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 2, 2012 12:31 am

Trust is key! Thanks for the book suggestion.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:27 pm

Unfortunately, Rich, I think your trust was misplaced. I had hopes for this SRC as well, but they have been pretty well dashed. I am deeply disappointed in Lorene Cary--I had originally thought she might truly bring a perspective of caring about children and understanding the education process, but now she seems to just be a yes-woman for privatization and the views of the private-school-educated one percent. They should have tried the teachers proposal--Special Ed could have been dealt with and overseen by the Office of Specialized Services. Those poor special ed parents will probably have a rude awakening when a charter company takes over. After all, Mastery cried 'poor' when it came to special ed, and were told they did not have to do it even though they had a 'neighborhood' school. Special rules for the well-connected. This SRC is worse than the last one because they will wring their hands and say how horrible it is and how upset they are while they oversee the demise of public education in this city!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:13 pm

K.R.--------Correct. Rich is coming from a position of respect and the SRC et al laugh at all that. The quieter we are, the better they like it. Of course, Rich is right but the time for logic, respect, grace and decency are over. The time for action, real, purposeful action is very appropriate. They're destroying our kids and by extension, the city work force. Time to man up and see the truth and face it.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:03 pm

You guys are winning my affection. Please note for the record that I have actually been on strike before. Jerry Jordan was my Building Rep back in the day at Uni. And believe me it was crazy at Uni back then. But we were "good crazy." We could deal with anything. And did.

But What I remember most about the "Old Uni" is that we all seemed to have a passion for our students and loved to teach Our way.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:00 pm

We need to all stand together or all die one at a time. Make no mistake about it--our DEMOCRACY is at stake. The 1% see a chance to turn back the clock 125 years when workers had NO RIGHTS really. We need to fight back and use our ONLY power--The Power of Numbers !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:20 pm

Rich, if you know Jerry well do you think he will one day say enough is enough and say we are walking out??? Seriously, the rallies aren't cutting it. The SRC could care less. If Jerry gets tough then the SRC will listen.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 2, 2012 8:53 am

Yes, I do think Jerry does have the courage to say enough is enough. I went on strike with the man and stood right there with him shoulder to shoulder. You learn a lot about people when the battle begins and you put your family's paycheck on the line to fight for what you believe in.

But as an attorney, I would strongly urge the Court battle first. Advocacy must be done strategically and wisely. The PFT won the court battles last year. They can win them again.

The time to strike is not yet ripe. I was at the SRC meeting Thursday night and I was impressed with the way the PFT made it clear as to where they stand. I was impressed with the Youth United for Change and the Enon Tabernacle advocacy group.

I was impressed with the line of speakers and the passion of their words. The SRC got the message I am sure -- loud and clear.

I was also impressed with the way Pedro Ramos, Lorene and Feather Houston handled themselves and the situation. Penny and Mr. Knudsen admitted their budget is inadequate.

As a result of the recent advocacy, Pedro Ramos said that the Boston Consulting Group's plan is off the table for next year, pending community input. He acknowledged the "Public Demand" for a competently written "public document" by BCG discussing their findings and their recommendations to the SRC. I would also demand that they document all relevant research and fully explain their rationale.

Then it needs to be put through the "strict scrutiny" test of public debate and constitutional protections of the people -- that is worth fighting for.

We all know that BCG cannot do that competently because they came with their already prepared template of privatization and self promotion. We will see BCG for what they are when they document their recommendations, I assure you of that. BCG has already displayed their leadership incompetence by excluding the public in their process. They obviously know more about working in darkened rooms without windows and circumventing democracy in public school governance.

Jerry made a good address to the SRC. So did Bob McGrogan of CASA. Everyone needs to stand together and speak more loudly and loudly in strategic yet powerful ways.

I would hope the SRC begins to understand, that if they embark on an adversarial course, there will be no winners -- only losers. And the destruction it will cause will hurt the children for years.

Does anyone think it is good for children to live in a house of turmoil?

We need community builders to lead us. And right now, everyone needs to rise and speak loudly in wise and strategic ways.

We educate our children well so we can have a healthy democracy which protects all of our freedoms and rights as a humanity. Sometimes you have to fight for those rights -- strategically.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:56 am

Rich, you are correct to recommend a court battle first. Unfortunately, the current political and economic climate is not kind to unions. I come from a family in which my mother, uncle, grandfather, and others are/have been union members. I was briefly a union member when I worked one summer at a grocery store. I was in my early 20s and I didn't like having the union dues taken from my paycheck. I didn't need the health care benefits or the job security because I knew I wasn't going to be there very long. But I did know that if I got hurt I would have someone to help advocate for me, to help me file claims and what not. I knew I wouldn't have to go it alone. I also knew that my coworkers, some of whom didn't have the opportunity to go to college, including a couple of people with disabilities, were able to work for a decent wage and have health benefits and safe working conditions because of the union.

In the current media environment, the union has to really manage its image. It has to be the absolute last option to strike. A strike looks selfish unfortunately, especially in this city where there is such high poverty and where all of the members of SEIU 32BJ have layoff notices.

As someone who deeply believes in the benefits of unions and deeply wants them to survive, I think that some reforms in how unions operate could really help them survive. I know I'll take flack for my opinions about this, but these thoughts come from a deep-seated belief in the value of unions and a desire to see unions continue. Some policies of teachers unions do undermine their credibility and seem more adult-centered than kid-centered. Policies such as forced transfers and the difficulty of removing ineffective teachers due to tenure and lengthy due process hurt not only students, but also the teaching profession's reputation. Many policies of the unions, such as regulations on class size and planning time, are very good for students and for adults. And teachers who earn good wages and aren't living from paycheck to paycheck are going to be less stressed and this is good for both teachers and students.

Some people hate unions because they hate the philosophy behind unions, but other people have problems with some of these specific issues relating to teachers unions, but not the principle of unions. These specific policies are those which make firing ineffective or burnt out teachers really difficult. I'm not saying that the unions should cave into public pressure, just that PFT and others maybe take a look at these policies and see if they can improve or change some of them. Seniority is fine, as long as it's something that's earned because of effective teaching year after year. How this is accomplished, such as through multi-pronged evaluation systems and professional development, is another issue entirely. Some of the charters are well-run and provide excellent education and treat the teachers well. But there are also charters, namely Universal, which are all about the money. The PFT can't stoop to the level of the powers that be and money-hungry charter operators like Universal by putting money and job security over kids.

I don't know as much about principals and administrators, but I know that they also have union representation. My points about teachers would apply to them as well. There is also a need for evaluations of principals and administrators, and of course, the superintendent!

Look at what the teachers in Chester Upland did - they stayed on the job even when they weren't getting paid. They put their students first! Now it's not right to demand that from teachers year after year. But this was an exceptional circumstance. And I haven't heard ANYTHING critical about the Chester Upland Education Association. People may be looking at the charter school, at the state, but NO ONE is pointing fingers at the teachers. Why? Because they did right by those kids. Those teachers held that district together by staying on the job. It's easy to walk off the line when your producing cars, but when you're educating children, it's a different story. (It's easy for me to say that since I'm a student and I only have to support myself, but still, there's some truth to it.)

And it would make sense for the PFT to demand that the SRC make Universal pay rent for 2011-12 and make them pay rent which covers full costs for 2012-13 before the SRC asks the unions to make any concessions!

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 3, 2012 9:19 am

All very valid and well stated points. But I am taking today off! I am supposed to be semi-retired yet you guys are making me think about this stuff 24/7 still.

We all need to get out on this "beautiful day" and forget about it for a while. That is how you avoid "burnout."

Everyone enjoy your day. Get out into the sunshine and reflect on your values which mean so much to you.....

And appreciate what you do have.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:56 pm

Regarding Lorene Cary, I think that she genuinely does care. I've heard her speak on WHYY with Marty Moss-Coane a couple of times. During the interview on May 3rd with her, Mr. Knudsen, and Mr. Ramos, she came across as the most "caring," in the sense that she spoke about (without being asked) that the current spending isn't enough for children, that they deserve better.

However, I think that there is enormous pressure on members of the SRC to have consensus. Ms. Cary prefaced one of her votes today, the one for Eastern U's charter, with an explanation. Mr. Dworetzky was the only one to give a "no" vote, which he gave for the EUCS renewal.

As much as we criticize the SRC, all of the members are in a very difficult position when it comes to the budget. We don't know what goes on behind closed doors. Maybe there is a member or two who has spoken up against the BCG contract and other nonsense. I actually thought that there were some really good questions today. Feather Houstoun asked some very specific questions about special education and the content of Universal's curriculum, specifically its Afrocentric components. She stated to Shaheid Dawan and the other woman from Universal (I don't recall her name) that she (Houstoun) recognized she was asking about very sensitive issues. I also appreciated that Mr. Ramos allowed Regina Feighan-Drach to go over the 3 minute limit. Even she was very grateful toward him.

As I've said before, there is blame on all sides: SRC, SDP management, unions, charter operators, parents, and taxpayers (especially those who haven't been paying their property taxes). I think if people would acknowledge their own faults and be more honest about their own ideologies, the process might be a little less contentious. Maybe I'm being too idealistic and/or optimistic.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:28 pm

You are !!!!!!! Geez----stop already. It's ugly and say what you want but the SRC members should quit and demand that Corbett fund real Public Education. They can whine and cry about the kids but they took the job. They should en masse resign. Then, they'll be supporting the kids best interests.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 2, 2012 12:59 am

We all know Corbett doesn't want to fund real public education.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:02 pm

This SRC is worse than the last one because they will wring their hands and say how horrible it is and how upset they are while they oversee the demise of public education in this city!
You're wrong about that. This SRC is better because Robert Archie is gone. He was so unethical, promoting Universal at a Daroff SAC meeting and was involved in that "secret" meeting with Dwight Evans and co.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:26 pm

Yes, Archie was an obvious scoundrel and yes, Pedro looks the part and can emote with the best of them--so can Lorraine Carey-----------but the bottom line is action counts and their actions so far are really no better than the past SRC. America is NOT broke--Wall Street is richer than ever before and their greed caused the Great Recession. The 1% sees an opportunity to make more money and will do whatever they have to do to make that happen. They just don't care so we better.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:41 pm

Please somebody, anybody get in Jerry Jordan's ear about this!!! He needs to man up and call a walk off. Excuse my language but f*** the contract. If the SRC sees all teachers walk then they will listen. Until you force their hand they will keep doing this.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:44 pm

Rich, who can get in Jerry Jordan's ear about this??? Can the writers of The Notebook do it??? For God's sake this has to stop. He can try and stop it. He needs to be more forceful. Sometimes I feel that the SRC takes the PFT as a joke. He should let them cancel the contract and then we can walk out. We have to make a stand here. Showing up at rallies obviously is not pursuading the SRC. The SRC is going to do what it wants until ACTION is taken. If teachers walk I am sure it will open their eyes. Any advice?

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 2, 2012 9:40 pm

I agree with you that making a real "reorganization" by replacing the principal, and possibly some of the senior staff should've been tried before turning over Creighton to a charter operator. However here is the problem/irony: The District is prevented from doing this by labor agreements. So these agreements mean that the only way to really reorganize is to hand over management to a party that does not have these labor agreements. It looks like the union can share the blame for this loss of "public" in the SDP. Perhaps we need to clarify, better define, the line between self interest and protection of rights?

Submitted by Frank Murphy on June 2, 2012 10:25 pm

 There isn't any labor agreement that would prevent the District from replacing the principal.  A new principal would determine which teachers would serve on the leadership team. 

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 2, 2012 10:50 pm

Are you sure about this? If you are correct, then definitely this should be tried first. Wouldn't the principal's union object, because you can only shuffle principals so much before essentially firing them? But then shouldn't firing a principal be justified, because if a principal is at fault for a failing school, is it right to reassign that principal to another school?

Submitted by Frank Murphy on June 3, 2012 12:00 am

The superintendent or CEO determines principal assignments. Arlene Ackerman changed the assignments of numerous principals according to her mood of the day.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:18 pm

And no wonder the principals could not focus on their job!

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on June 3, 2012 5:22 am

Once a principal, the person can not be "demoted" to a teacher. There are some principals who float because the SDP can't get rid of them. This is in their contract. Principals have much better protection than teachers.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:21 pm

And there you have the dilemma. Giving a school to a charter operator is a roundabout and risky way to enact reorganization; and ruthlessly judgemental, with the good staff getting tossed with the bad. Why not work something out with the unions in terms of a procedure that includes interventions/training, political safeguards (evaluations from truly third parties)/reassignments when a principal or teacher is alleged to be ineffective? It would seem to me that this a more direct and positive way to tackle this element of reform. The time and investment to keep good staff saves far more than risky churning/wholesale replacement.

Submitted by Frank Murphy on June 3, 2012 1:36 pm

 Investing in the maintenance of a good staff isn’t part of the equation. Eliminating contracts, pension obligations, and creating new fields for wealth generation are the more important priorities of the school privateers. Creating employee churn and wholesale replacement of school staffs is a tactic intended to destabilize and eventually dismantle public education.   

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 2:02 pm

Of course, it's not complicated.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 4, 2012 7:30 am

But if it's a foregone conclusion, why even bother saying it over and over? At least make the decision makers uncomfortable by presenting the consequences in terms that they are using to justify their actions right now: "In the long term you are creating greater expense by rash decisions to convert to charter and other operators who can't be adequately regulated rather than dealing directly with obstacles created by a bureaucratic mindset*; and the result is far more expensive also when the underserved are filtered out to end up segregated and less integrated into the society at large and thus a greater burden to all of us. You defeat the very goal of public education."

*Converting to charters is in fact just another example of a bureaucratic mindset.

The unions should make it (charter conversions and the personnel upheaval that it causes) a negotiating issue. They should also be willing to work together and for, not against, the goals of high quality service for the children... work something acceptable out to cover cases where teachers and administrators are accused of not meeting standards (there is so much leeway given on standardized test stats, and the tests themselves target the bottom, so these are not going away unless someone has a better alternative.)

In the case of Creighton, I would say the majority of comments here support the teachers by virtue of their position. Very few ask for details. How is it that teachers that have been there a long time, probably outlasting principals, can't, or feel they don't have to, disclose what their efforts were all those years; and what they would do differently? Can each of our own body parts also function dually as the brain?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 10:59 pm

You are just anti "senior staff" ......

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 2, 2012 10:31 pm

No, I said possibly, not definitely. Teachers can influence the principal, and if you've been there the longest, you had the longest time to do this.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 2, 2012 10:14 pm

Also by senior, I should clarify that it may not be the longest time you've been there, but the responsibility you've been given. Example: Our Team Literacy Leader stayed Team Literacy Leader despite our school not making AYP, specifically for literacy, all the years she had this role/job. She was pretty good at accomodating the principal... and keeping her preferential status.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 11:50 am

Thomas Darden is a sell out. He has negotiated sweet deals with Charter Schools, I wonder what back room personal deals he has going....check out his past......

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 2, 2012 11:44 am

Darden was brought to Philly by Ackerman. His titles have changed a few times but I'm sure his salary has kept pace. He came with no experience and to leave before he makes any more "deals" with Universal to get away with not paying their bills. To charge Universal a mere $500,000 for two schools, including a branch new building, is a crime. It is theft and Darden and the SRC are enabling it to happen.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 1:31 pm

Thomas Darden is so corrupt, it makes me sad that he works for the School District. I don't know how he can sleep at night knowing how he is ruining public education.

Mr Darden you only tell lies! What is Universal giving you- fancy dinners, laptops like they promised the parents or are you getting more.

Funny how the money deal is resolved right before they get another school.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 1, 2012 6:35 pm

The Inquirer Kristen Graham's Twitter feed covering the SRC meeting:

5:16 newskag:
universal's rent: they will not pay district for using vare, audenried for 2011-12. they will pay $500k going fwd. #phillyeducation

5:17 newskag:
why won't universal pay for this yr? darden - they believed they had an understanding w/prior admin. #phillyeducation

5:17 newskag:
darden - universal took small schools and so they don't have $ to pay us for this year & still do turnarounds. #phillyeducation

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:56 pm

universal's rent: they will not pay district for using vare, audenried for 2011-12. they will pay $500k going fwd. #phillyeducation
I didn't realize that was the case. I thought they were going to pay $500,000 for THIS year. And I didn't know they hadn't paid for Vare. Did anyone else know this? Everyone knew about Audenreid, but wow, rent free at 2 schools! That is straight up THEFT!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:08 pm

I hope City Council gets wind of this. I wouldn't give the SRC a dime now. The SRC is letting Universal get away with not paying up. Let the SRC go to the State!!

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:38 pm

I would love to see the City Council do something, but I would be stunned if they do anything. Apparently Kenny Gamble and Mayor Nutter are friends. Universal seems to have lots of friends, so I'm sure Universal has some friends on City Council. How about contacting the state. I don't usually like the people in Harrisburg who like to stick it to Philadelphia, but I'd like to see them do something about the nonpayment of rent and the backdoor meeting at 440 Broad. Contact the Office of the Inspector General: If enough people contact them, they might listen (hopefully).

Submitted by anon (not verified) on June 2, 2012 5:56 pm

and after darden broke that little tidbit, how many minutes was it before the SRC gave creighton to universal. i'm sorry, but that's just not the way you conduct the public's business when it's on the up and up. we see you SRC for what you are. carpetbaggers, yes men and a pitiful excuse for public servants. why don't one of you show you still have a whiff of integrity and resign your post. you only stand to lose more of your dignity going forward as corbett makes you jump through hoops for his wealthy benefactors. the whole world is watching and we see you for what you are. quit now!

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 2, 2012 5:43 pm

Not only does Universal get the facilities at Audenreid and Vare free this year (because we simply must honor Ackerman's agreement as the article quotes above), Darden is also quoted in this article as saying the $500,000 fee for next year "does not cover our costs, but we believe it is a fair amount."

Can there be any clearer demonstration that charters are being given every advantage and public schools every disadvantage. Ramos said at Thursday night's meeting that the community is to blame for the deficit because the previous SRC did what we asked for! The in your face arrogance of this fraud is truly breathtaking.

But as the Book of Proverbs says: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:08 pm

Meanwhile, the SRC is bleeding their SDP schools dry. Universal doesn't have the funds! So, what! They are living rent free!
So, if I have an "understanding," I get off free????

The SRC should hang their heads in shame. They are approving a charter - Eastern - with an low score and closing a SDP school because of alleged low score. Then, they are giving another school to a corporation that is not paying its bills and has NO experience in an ethnically diverse school.

Ramos, Carey, Houston, Pritchett, and Dworetzsky have sold their souls to BCG, Mastery and Universal. This is a crime...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:29 pm

Crime is correct. LAWSUITS and PRESSURE--up close and very personal is called for and extremely appropriate.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:56 pm

I'm sure Universal does have funds in some savings account somewhere, but maybe not in their education accounts. 1 million (or more) in free rent? That is outright THEFT!

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:39 pm

I guess meeting with Ramos is closed, back room meetings pays off! Shame! Shame! Shame!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:13 pm

yes, that meeting was not open to teachers as was stated by Universal at SRC meeting today - that reference was to a community member on the SAC team. My understanding if there are three SRC members present the meeting can not be closed - and yes, there were three: Ramos, Houstoun and Cary...

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:30 pm

Darden, like Nixon, are Ackerman left overs. Darden has the nerve to accept an "understanding" and not charge Universal rent??? Independent charters, versus corporations like Mastery and Universal, have to raise considerable funds to equip and run buildings. SDP principals have to budget money to run the schools. Why is Universal different from the rest? SRC do you have any conscious?

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:57 pm

Ackerman was fired in disgrace. Archie left in disgrace. Yet, Darden and the SRC accept an unwritten "understanding" claimed by Universal Corporation? Does anyone on the SRC have any integrity? Apparently not. Carey calls for a "love train" yet she sells out the students she claims to represent. Ramos is a charlatan. When Esperanza Academy presented, he was having a love feast with the leadership. Now, the SRC is bowing to Universal Corporation while leaving the SDP out of dry. Meanwhile, Pritchett apparently is trying to save his job at Rutgers Camden. Resign - all 5 - already! (Then take Ackerman's crew - Driver, Darden, Nixon, etc. - with you!)

Submitted by Anon (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:31 pm

I think I heard Cary say Pritchett is out of the country not to return until the 9th.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:18 pm

Darden said that the SDP and Universal came to an agreement about rent for Audenreid and Vare. This is LONG overdue.

I watched today's meeting. The process was fair. Of course, the proposal would have been better had the SRC given the teachers as much time as the charter operators had. However, this is the first case of a teacher-led plan, so this is a live-and-learn situation for the SRC. That said, an SRC more friendly to teachers and District-operated schools may have allowed the teacher-led team a chance to amend their plan.

That aside, there are legitimate concerns about the special education services that the teacher-led team could provide. Lillian English-Hence (it didn't display her name on the screen, so this is my best guess for the spelling), a member of the SAC at Creighton and the grandmother of a child at Creighton, argued passionately and without a script that she was concerned about the ability of the teacher-led team to provide the services necessary for her grandson who has autism. She was speaking purely about the well-being of her grandson. If children are truly at the center of the process, it's important to listen to people who advocate purely for the well-being of the child.

Feather Houstoun asked Thomas Darden questions about how the turnaround would affect children receiving special education services. Creighton is a regional school for special education, meaning that it provides services for students outside of the catchment area. Mr. Darden said that all students who currently attend the school will be able to attend it if it becomes a charter. He said that there has been little turnover of special education students at Renaissance Schools, with most of the turnover due to students moving. I missed a couple of minutes of Mr. Darden and Ms. Houstoun's exchange, so did he make any guarantees about the special education programs staying in place for more than a year? (unlike what happened at Mastery Clymer).

Personally, I want Mr. Darden to present more specific data regarding special education students attending Renaissance Schools in order to support his claims that the charters are providing the necessary services for students with disabilities. With the issues relating to the language in the Mastery Clymer contract, I don't trust his office to do what is correct for the special education students. He said today that it is the parent's choice to leave or keep his/her child in the charter or have the child go to another District school. So why wasn't this the case for Mastery Clymer parents? Some parents may have had the knowledge to challenge the decision at Mastery Clymer. However, special education law is complex, and it is hard for some teachers to understand all of the issues. Therefore, it is very understandable that some parents would not realize that they had a choice to challenge the situation at Clymer. June Bey pointed out this issue of parent knowledge during her testimony at last night's (5/31) SRC meeting.

I understand that Clymer is a small school. I understand that people make mistakes. However, the SRC and Mr. Darden's office should have taken this into account when choosing Clymer to be a Renaissance School. And in order to correct the mistake, the District should have come up with more money to correct its mistake at Mastery Clymer instead of allowing Mastery to discontinue the life skills program for students with multiple disabilities after this school year. The language in the contract with Mastery Clymer could be grounds for litigation. In addition, Mr. Darden and the SRC should have been more transparent about the issues with students with special needs at Mastery Clymer. It should not take a parent advocate (Cathy Roccia-Meier) to come to an SRC meeting and bring the issue to light.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:16 pm

FYI, if it wasn't for the teachers at that grandmother's kid would never be at the level he is at! She should be bowing to the Creighton teachers for everything they have done for her grandson. Butt here is no loyality - there is none ..... promise them a laptop and a dinner and they will follow!

Good luck next year - cause you will be sorry!

Submitted by Mary L. (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:22 pm

How dare you? I am a parent two kids and I am on the S.A.C. at Creighton who knows that grandmother. My son and her grandson are in the same class. She has always been grateful to the teachers but she doesn't need to bow down to anyone. The fact that you can believe that we were bribed with such cheap items such as a laptop and dinner speaks to your ignorance! Sounds racist to me! What because you see minorities you think we will sell our kids! If you know so much, put your name on your statement.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 6:16 am

Funny how it all changed after the dinner! From an outsider, that's what it looks like!
And if the teacers did help her grandson why in public would she go against them! If you listened the meetings, the teachers did not accuse her or anyone of taking a bribe - they accused Universal - there is a big difference!!!!

Submitted by Please (not verified) on June 11, 2012 7:30 pm

Laptops aren't necessarily cheap. And the fact that you immediately accuse someone of racism demonstrates naivete and ignorance.
Let's see how Universal works out for your kids, silly lady.

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:36 pm

I have no loyalty to teacher who feels free to make those kind of statements. You clearly have no respect for the community you teach in, but you have the audacity to whine for loyalty while you insult the people who have given you there public trust.

Food and a laptop, you think we parents are that stupid don't you?

Bowing? Really? You are entrusted by the public to educate children. The public determines how they value and compensate your work. If the public finds you lacking, the public can choose to put its resources else where.

This is a democracy and your statement is disgusting.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:14 pm

I am not a teacher, or a member of the Creighton School, I should say the person that said that the grandmother should bow to those teachers, I agree with her a 100%. She is on the money, As for loyalty, you have none, never will.

Submitted by Anonymous on June 1, 2012 11:52 pm

What concerns me is that we have no idea if it is or isn't true.

And it is a pretty serious allegation. If it is not true, then those who brought it up in public have had their credibility irrevocably damaged. But if it is true, then Universal should be immediately disqualified from running *any* district schools.

And I am concerned that the SRC voted without establishing the truth or falsehood of the statement. And I am very curious to know what the SRC is going to do to investigate the claim and either exonerate Universal or sanction Universal.

Submitted by Ms Perkins (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:47 pm

I agree! Whats funny to me is that everyone was for Thomas Creighton remaining the same until that dinner. Once the dinner took place some people changed and those are the same people who spoke against Universal in other meetings. I didnt attend the dinner but i can say the laptop statement is true because it was repeated with many other things today in a over heard conversation. The damage is done and the school should have had certain rules like no meeting on those terms of dinner and ect. Everyone is entitled to change there mind but i just wish it wasnt because of Universal.

Submitted by SAC Member (not verified) on June 2, 2012 1:00 am

Everyone is not entitled to change the vote, at least not as a SAC member. The third party that was overseeing the process was specific that once the vote is submitted to the SDP, there is no going back. It was FINAL. I repeat as it was repeated to us FINAL, there is no going back people. The rules were broken. The third party stopped overseeing the process from the moment that the SRC tabled the vote on April 19th. SAC members were on the loose, Universal stepped in as planned, turn them against each other. SRC was informed, but they didn't act on it. It takes an honest person to look at the evidence that is available and act on it.Who will make the fist move ??? The system is corrupted, it has been, sorry for the students at Creighton, they deserve better. We were a family. Tonight my child was comforting me, tonight my child told me that the government .......and one day, they will feel sorry for what they did. Shame on you SRC for acting like you care ; shame on you SDP for making the Teachers Proposal eligible for voting and six weeks later coming up with the list of lame excuses; shame on you parents that look at your own personal gain, but speak in the name of the SAC members. We might have lost today, but at least have a clear conscience.

Submitted by Parent (not verified) on June 2, 2012 1:15 am

Thank You for that clarification, I believe that there were some sac members that did not change their mind and I commend them, but I would like to know what was the reason for them changing their mind?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 1:36 pm

I agree, how can a SAC change their mind after a vote was made. Grandparents and parents screaming about the safety of their children, well I'm worried about the safety of SAC members who did stand behind their vote. They have to live in the community and when families say to their children don't talk to parents who have different beliefs then there is something wrong with that. Hearing parents saying don't hug the person they have hugged all year, it's wrong and those parents are wrong. Worried about safety - I'm worried what will Monday bring - these parents are so angry I am worried about what they will do or say.

Submitted by Mary L. (not verified) on June 2, 2012 1:31 am

I believe your kind of loyalty is foolish. You sound like a person who would sink with a ship that not going anywhere. Once again, I will not stand for any disrespect towards my fellow S.A.C. members. We bow to no one! You can bow down all you want. We are loyal to our kids! That's real loyalty! REAL LOYALTY!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 1:07 am

what kind of foolishness are you saying? Sinking ship ?????????

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 5:54 am

Perhaps you are just caring about your kids? But what about the other 99% - It states in typed print Universal teaches African History every single day. So the only culture to learn about is the African American one. I am African American and I feel that this is racist.. I want my child to learn about all cultures so all are respected and valued - not just her race. This is the problem we face in our country. My child goes to Creighotn and there are no racial issues - there are problems but they don't stem from racism. I will be leaving Creighton because I am not subjecting my child to UNiversal and that's because I care!

Submitted by Please (not verified) on June 11, 2012 7:11 pm

Your comments sound racist to me.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 6:30 am

FYI: I'm not a teacher at Creighton who wrote the statement about the grandmom - I'm a parent! And yes, that garndmom said the teachers helped her - well look what she did to the teachers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 11:17 am

The process was so not fair! Universal's proposal is a general proposal used for every school that they want to grab. It was said at the meeting .Therefore, Universal does not have specific details nor programs aligned to improve Creighton. This is an area that Nixon blasted the teacher's proposal for - no details as how it will impact Creighton.

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on June 2, 2012 11:10 am

How is Universal Corporation going to support the English Language Learners? Is that in the proposal, Ms. Nixon? How is Universal going to support the autistic students, Ms. Nixon?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 10:37 pm

That's easy. They have no intention of teaching or supporting them.

I'm sure Nixon is drafting proposals now for the "overflow" students of Creighton. Bet you my salary that all of those ELLs and Autism Support students end up as "overflow," along with the students with behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and the wrong color of skin.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 4, 2012 11:32 am

One of the problems that charter schools in Philadelphia have for providing Special Education services particularly for low incidence populations, is that the IU is school district managed and not county managed like all other IUs except Pittsburgh. Charters have little to no access to IU programs. Ironically, I think the parents stand a better chance of having special needs met through district programs. I felt really saddened by the tearful grandmother choosing Universal because her grandchild has special ed needs. I think she has a better chance of those needs being met by a district run school.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 6, 2012 12:14 am

Regarding the Philadelphia Intermediate Unit, the situation is unique because the city and county are one and the same. Nonetheless, it would make sense for the District to reorganize the IU so that it serves traditional public schools and charter schools.

Students with moderate, severe, and profound disabilities (e.g., cerebral palsy, severe autism, intellectual disability, blindness) are a fairly small number of the students attending publicly-funded schools. However, these students often require specialized instruction which differs considerably from the instruction for the general education population. It's much easier for general education teachers to learn on the job how to use particular techniques and strategies for students with mild and high-incidence disabilities, such as learning disabilities and ADHD. The majority of the techniques for these students (e.g. more one-on-one or small-group instruction, direct instruction, behavior charts) are also useful for general education students, making it possible to for teachers without special ed certification to learn or receive training in these techniques either on the job or through professional development.

On the other hand, techniques and strategies for students with moderate, severe, and profound disabilities often differ considerably from general education techniques and strategies. Examples include person-centered planning, systematic prompting and prompt fading, functional life skills, functional academic skills, and community-based instruction. In addition, some of the students with low-incidence disabilities are medically fragile. Some of them require specialized equipment such as wheelchairs, standers, and wear diapers. Many of these students attend approved private schools, but some do attend District schools. Students with visual impairments need large-print materials and sometimes braille. Teachers need to have special certification for working with students with visual impairments, hearing impairments, and increasingly, autism. Finally, students with low-incidence disabilities often require intensive therapy services (speech, physical, and occupational) and intensive transition planning.

The point of my descriptions is to point out that the resources, including personnel, who work with students with low-incidence disabilities are often highly specialized and, therefore, very expensive. It is difficult to provide these services well at an independent charter school. In addition, may charter operators such as Mastery and KIPP are focused on academic achievement and promoting college. These models, by virtue of a college-preparatory focus, do not easily accommodate the needs of students with low-incidence disabilities who require highly-individualized instruction, equipment, and need support services not typically necessary for general education students (e.g., occupational therapy). Also, many students with low-incidence disabilities will not be able to go to a 4-year college or even a 2-year college or vocational school. Instead, some may need supported employment and vocational rehabilitation support. Often times, students with low incidence disabilities stay in school until age 21. These students often require specialized services, equipment, and planning which requires a certain level of bureaucracy (good bureaucracy, in many cases) which is expensive, often existing only in an IU, state agency or contract agency, or school district central office.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 1, 2012 7:59 pm

Ramos at Thursday's SRC meeting:

"We have the deficit because previous administrations did what you (the community) asked them to."

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:01 pm

And what did the community ask them (the SRC?) to do?

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 1, 2012 7:50 pm

Ramos didn't specify that, but he is trying to blame the community for Ackerman and the previous SRC's gross mismanagement. We did not ask for Promise Academies, Renaissance Schools, privately manged schools; all which happened at great cost to the public schools.

I personally believe it was part of Ackerman's agenda to run up the deficit, along with Corbett's budget, to pressure parents to escape deteriorating underfunded public schools by putting their children in charters. As her mentor at the Broad Foundation, Eli Broad says, "Never let a crisis go to waste." (This was the method for school district "transformation" pioneered in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.)

See "Always Listen to the Billionaire" on the Huffington Post at:

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:24 pm


That's a very interesting column. I looked at the Faculty & Speakers of The Broad Superintendents Academy and it's a who's who list of current "reformers" in education: Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Mike Fienberg (KIPP's foudner), and others (

Mr. Thompson mentions "top down, paced curriculum" (, para. 3). Recently, I had an in-depth conversation with a teacher I know who teaches in the District. She said that one of the positive aspects of a common District curriculum is that it is helpful for students who are transient, who move schools from year to year. And there are a lot of students like that in Philadelphia whose families move frequently. So I think for these kids, the consistency of a common curriculum is certainly a positive thing.

One more thing about the Thompson article. It's interesting that all of these business people funding education reform push for reforms for poor children, even though some of these rich people have NEVER been poor, NEVER attended public school, and NEVER sent their kids to public (or charter) schools. I say some because both Eli and Edythe Broad attended public schools ( But Bill Gates' father, Bill Gates Sr., was a lawyer. Bill Gates went to the Lakeside School, an elite, expensive private school in Seattle, WA. His wife, Melinda, comes from a more humble, middle class family ( (Full disclosure, I went to parochial school for K-8, Catholic high school for 9-12, and a public university.)

My philosophy is, if it's not good enough for rich kids, it's not good enough for poor kids! If people like Bill Gates won't send their kids to public or charter schools, then why should they be advocating for or involved with efforts for public education, especially for kids who are low-income or "at-risk"? This isn't to say that they don't know a lot about the issues, but sometimes there is no substitute for experience.

I understand everyone wants the best for their own children, and I know public school teachers and principals who send their own kids to private schools. But if wealthy people want better public schools, why not give money to the public school systems, especially those which educate large numbers of poor children, like Philadelphia? I know the District is corrupt, but someone with a lot of money could direct how the District is to use that money. That's what Mark Zuckerberg is doing in Newark, NJ.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:46 pm

I'd like someone to put up Jerry Jordan's statements to the SRC yesterday. I am interested in seeing what he has to say.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 2, 2012 7:18 pm

Jerry Jordan gave a pretty good speech on Thursday. I don't remember much of it, but I do remember him saying something about if you want to manage portfolios, go work on Wall Street. I probably remember that because there was a snippet of that part on the news.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 2, 2012 11:54 am

Ramos has a privatization agenda. He insulted everyone at the demonstration by claiming we were dupes of the PFT. (Tell the many parents and students who participated!)

Also, I know Renaissance Schools are COSTING the SDP money. Is there any study comparing the cost of Renaissance schools to the cost of the schools remaining in the SDP? Now that Mastery has dumped special education students - and I assume Universal Corporation will do the same - that will again cost the SDP money. If Ramos is so concerned about cutting costs, he needs to address the cost of Renaissance schools.

Submitted by parent (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:30 pm

ATT: Office of Inspector General, if you are reading this, make a move, we already contacted you !!!

Submitted by anon (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:13 pm

so, wining and dining the parents and holding private meetings with the SRC that the press was barred from didn't happen?? just sweep it under the rug? shame shame!
neither dems nor republicans care about a level playing field

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:46 pm

File a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General against Universal for not paying to use the buildings of Audenried and E. Vare:

Submitted by Ms Perkins (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:16 pm

I sat there today with my son who wanted to spend his 7th birthday fighting for his school. As a parent it hurts to see the school district has failed our childern and community once again. I'm against charter and I will not force my children to stay fhere. I know Universal will sit in Creighton seats one day I just hope I'm there to see it. The School District has showed charter isn't the best for our children either cause there fighting to keep there schools open to. I wish Universal the best but I'm not for charter and I'm hurt the decision made today . I feel so sorry for Creighton staff I Love them. I hope all of them heal from this. Universal has very nasty staff they down talked Creighton mind you they never walked a day in Creighton footsteps but they soon will I know they can't Handel childern who have needs and childern who act out. I feel bad for the childern who have behavior issues because instead of trying to save these children there going to kick them out of school. Public teachers heart are so much bigger. Creighton staff goes over and beyond for the children I hate to see them lose the staff that gives there all for them. Universal is all about conning people and only the weak fall for that. I'm not 2 faced and I'm not a 2 way street. I have always been for Creighton and no dinner or no one attitude will change that.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:35 pm

I watched you and you son's testimony. Happy birthday to him! His testimony was touching and heartwarming. It's always great to hear a child speak because children tend to speak from the heart better than adults in many cases.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:18 pm

your* son's

Submitted by Ms Perkins (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:22 pm

Thanks he's so heartbroken by at least he was able to say how he feel

Submitted by Ms Perkins (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:06 pm


Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:22 pm

Universal Companies did a great job starting rumors about the SAC members of Crieghton, which made the SAC members resent each other. Look at it this way, what is the best way to get the SAC members angry, by inviting the teacher from Creighton "by mistake" to the dinner at Gallo's. Sneaky people now laughing and partying because they divided a community, and enemies at the same time.

Submitted by Ms Perkins (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:29 pm

Yes sad to hear people, talking in the hallway about turning Creighton against one another. It's just sad Creighton people fell for it.

Submitted by Audax on June 1, 2012 11:15 pm

This makes me sad. I am both a taxpayer in this city, chosing to live within the borders, a teacher in the District, AND a victim of the SRC's dealing with Universal having previously been at Audenried.

There are several of us who still keep in touch with our former students and they tell horror stories about what has occurred at Audenried this year. Multiple teachers quit before December never to be replaced. Teachers have been forced to cover those classes without pay or the chance to plan for their own classes. The extended school year has been cancelled (this was a HUGE sell according to Dwortesky when he agreed to vote for the turnover). They accused the former teachers of stealing computers only to have the District show them where in the building they were (the storage closet, duh!).

The fact that they aren't going to pay for the building this year, and that their future payments will still be subsidized is outrageous. The District owes a good bit of money on the debt-service, they should be charging appropriate rent.

For anyone to think that Universal doesn't provide laptops and positions to parents who "help" them out, they are mistaken. They did it for 2 parents at Audenried who vocally backed them, and I'm sure they will do the same at Creighton.

One year's experience with the South Philly Asian community is not a history of dealing with multiculturalism, it's an anomaly in their stats. Also, no data has is available in terms of just how well they are "turning around" anything, so how can they have anymore of a basis for running the school than the people inside who actually do know what is needed.

Sad, sad, sad.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 2, 2012 12:04 am

File a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General against Universal for not paying to use the buildings of Audenried and E. Vare. If enough people do it, hopefully the state might investigate:

Go to Universal's website. All of the information about the people is right on their website. Go to About Us and then Leadership.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 2, 2012 5:23 am

According to the SDP demographic data for Creighton, the school is more than 20% English Language Learners. Universal's other "gifts" or schools from the SDP, either do not have ELLs or a very small population of ELLs. Why give Universal a school with a large ELL population? Universal has NO track record on turning around a school! It has failed at Bluford and Daroff.

This on top of giving Universal a free pass on rent for 2011-2012 and then only charging them $500,000 for 2 buildings - including a brand new Audenreid - is robbing the SDP of much needed funds. The SDP continues to pay for so-called Renaissance Charters above the minimal rent paid by the charter companies including Mastery, Universal and Aspira. Meanwhile, the SDP will be lucky to pay the PECO bill.

Lastly, Universal uses dirty tactics - just like Archie, Evans and Ackerman - to get what it wants. The fact that Universal sent parents from Audenreid to speak on behalf of giving over Creighton and then held a closed door meeting with SRC members demonstrates that Universal does not play by the rules. Universal is corrupt. Instead of calling them on their corruption, Darden makes a "deal."

Does anyone on the SRC have any integrity? Are they all corrupt too?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 6:03 am

Next year, when the Unviersal Creighton SAC parents are sitting down after coming home from another paid dinner and they go to use their new laptop - tell me that you weren't bribed! Shame on you!

Submitted by Mary L. (not verified) on June 2, 2012 7:21 am

What do you know, that I don't know??? I did not attend any dinner nor receive any laptop! You are being rediculous! Those items are cheap compared to the grand design of life. Shame on You! That's why you stay anonymous, because you like slandering people! If you are speaking the truth, put your name on your statement! Stop hiding!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 9:15 am

Likely, they decided you had too much integrity and didn't try you. The dinner is fact-- it happened, they accidentally invited a reporter and then kicked them out when they found out who they were. The laptops story comes from last year's experience with Audenreid.

This is how Universal operates.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:14 am

Talk to anyone who attended the dinner - you didn't receive your laptop yet - can't get it until you become a Universal SCA member.

Submitted by Mark (not verified) on June 11, 2012 7:08 pm

You have the name "Mary" on your postings - how are you not anonymous yourself? What's your last name? Hmmm?
Students at HCZ in Harlem are known to be paid cash for simply attending school on time. The girls get their nails done over the weekend because of the cash handed out to the kids. Parents - anyone - tend to be softer to someone who attends to a basic human need like eating...and then they are swayed by fast talkers.
The SAC at Creighton was BAMBOOZLED - simple as that. Good luck!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 6:07 am

I salute the Creighton people who fought for their school!.

Submitted by Ms Perkins (not verified) on June 2, 2012 12:14 pm


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:39 pm

Agreed!!! An d for those praising Universal---you'll be sorry!!! They cannot do what our traditional public school teachers do.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 6:58 am

My sons charter school is struggling like all other public schools because of less money. It isn't fair that some special charters save hundreds of thousands by getting free buildings. Where did the money saved go?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 8:37 am

Nuttter and Gamble sitting in a tree...........

Submitted by Ms Perkins (not verified) on June 2, 2012 12:54 pm

So true charters arent the dont get me wrong you run across a few good one. I feel when dealing with charter your taking gamble cause you dont see a lot of where the money go to. Charter hides a lot of there money, its sad that they wouldnt want to give there all to the future which is our childern. Not all public schools are good but there a lot better then most charters. I wish your son the best and i wish mine the best to.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 8:56 am

Hopefully, this will be the last straw. Universal owes the city lots of money and the city will never get as long as Nutter has Gamble's back. The so called "slumlords" who owe the city huge money in taxes, are NEVER going to be called to task because they're primarily 1%ers. It's all corruption and Obama has done nothing to fix it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 9:55 am

Site selection has been a failure. I does nothing to improve schools and it erodes the seniority rights of union members.

Lorene Carey is just as corrupt as the rest. By "corrupt" I do not mean taking bribes, I mean that they are swayed by people with money to do their bidding. Ms. Carey does not even seem to understand the plan or the budget. At Northeast High, she seemed to think she was there to talk about school climate, and she did the same at City Council.

Please let's not make the same mistakes we did before by thinking that some SRC members are more sympathetic than others. Forget their phony ramblings and just look at the votes. 99% of the time they are unanimous.

Lisa Haver

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 9:47 am

Why has site selection been a failure? Why should good, young teachers have to wait a decade to even think about trying to get a job in a more stable school? Seniority makes perfect sense for layoffs, but teachers who have been here for awhile and are crappy should not get preference in school placements over a teacher who has only been around 5 years but is great. Seniority-only placements would cause a serious brain drain, and with so many older teachers nearing retirement, we need new teachers.

I think they should apply site selection to principals.

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on June 2, 2012 11:42 am

Why should a "young" teacher have any more advantage over an "old" teacher. Most "old" teachers are not incompetent. Some of us are much better than the "young" teachers. Why not put 10 - 20 years in a neighborhood school?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 12:54 pm

No argument there-- site selection doesn't give advantages based on seniority either way. "Old" teachers are very often better, but are not necessarily better.

Submitted by Tina Plumer-Butler (not verified) on June 2, 2012 10:13 am

I am a S.A.C. member and I have no problem with saying how I feel but I do have a problem with people who try to put other people down. I try to instill honesty in my children everyday. Anyone who knows me knows that about me, my husband,and my family. By the way my husband is also a S.A.C.member. We take care of our own responsibilities and we love our children very much and it hurts to know we went through this process with very open minds, with one goal our children, and for people to sit on this site and say that we as a family were bribed with a dinner and a laptop is not only heartbreaking but it showed everyone's true colors. By the way I voted for the teachers first and my husband chose Universal as his first choice. So that dinner meant nothing to us!!!!!!! What did bother us was that we were made to feel like we were not capable of making a sound mind decision!!! We as a family we don't owe those teachers or Universal anything!! We are taxpayers in this community!!! My husband and I pay our bills!!!! We don't need Universal for that, but those teachers get paid off of my tax dollars. Most of the S.A.C were undecided about the teachers from the very beginning but we stuck it out because we all felt that we needed to save our school!! Everyone had their own reasons for fighting for the teachers and everyone had their own reasons for not wanting to be a part of what the teachers were offering their children but to say that we were bribed or turned against one another by Universal was not the case at all. If people wanted to know why most of us changed our minds all they had to was ask!!!!! Speaking for myself, that dinner validated everything I felt about the lead teacher of the teachers proposal from the start. She tried to be intimidating at the dinner and that made most feel uneasy!!! If she was so confident in her abilities or had any kind of faith in the S.A.C she would not have had to go those measures. She tried to make us feel like children at that dinner, the ones who were not made to feel that way are the ones who are on this site spreading negativity. I'm not hiding behind ANONYMOUS!!!!! As for the meeting that was held with the SRC after the dinner, I was invited to that meeting way before it was announced at the dinner another S.A.C. member invited me. It was told to me that Mamma Gail was fecilitating a meeting and that S.A.C parents were invited to come. That same meeting was brought up again at the dinner by Mr. Vernard Johnson, he invited everyone. At that meeting there were S.A.C parents from other schools and there were also community members there as well. There were S.A.C. members at that meeting who were for and who were against the teachers proposal so to just put out there that the meeting was just closed for Universal supporters was wrong. The playing field was even at that meeting!!!!! I don't need someone standing over me and my family like we are incapable of making decisions and I did not want that kind of leadership for my children. Everyone who actively participated in this process knows the truth and to make people think anything but the truth well I guess you have to live with yourself on that situation. At the end of the day my husband and I can look our children in their eyes and know that we did the best that we could for them!!!!

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on June 2, 2012 11:34 am

Why were Mama Gail and Vernard Johnson involved at all? Do they live in the neighborhood? Who do they represent? Do they support Universal?

You obviously are able to make your own decision but Universal had no right to conduct a private meeting. Universal also was out of line sending parents from Audenreid to speak to the SRC about Creighton. I do not live in your neighborhood and would not presume to come to your school and tell you what to do. I'd also expect that level of respect toward my neighborhood/schools.

Universal owes the SDP money. I promised the sky on the west side of South Philly and hasn't delivered. Universal is a corporation that takes and does not give.

Best to you and the children of Creighton. It will be interesting to see how many actually stay - especially the special education students and English Language Learners - since Universal has failed miserably at Bluford and Daroff.

Submitted by Tina Plumer-Butler (not verified) on June 2, 2012 1:28 pm

To my understanding Mama Gail and Vernard Johnson held the meeting with the SRC for SAC parents and community members from different neighborhoods and schools. There were SAC parents there that had their own issues and one of the main issues that was discussed was the budget plan. People had a chance to discuss whatever was on their minds, the meeting was not a Universal meeting. It was a meeting for Sac parents and community members. We were all invited and we all had a chance to say what we felt. The Creighton Sac was not the main topic of that meeting. Like I stated before, most of us were fed up with the way things were going with the teachers so we decided to ask the SRC for our second choice. An emergency SAC meeting was called before we headed down to that SRC meeting and most of us decided not to attend. We were told that the emergency SAC meeting was called so that the teachers could clear the air because they knew that most of us was upset about how we were made to feel at the dinner. We were all frustrated at that point. My belief is that the teachers felt that things were not going the way that they planned so thats when the lead teacher of the teachers proposal started giving interviews about Universal pressing the SAC to make a decision in Universals favor. Universal did not press us. Her arrogance did!! Thanks so much for asking instead of assuming and thanks again for wishing my children well.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 2:37 pm

I believe that you went for the best offer. It's funny how you trusted the teachers and now you talk about them. Screaming and yelling is how you react. I saw it and heard about your actions. Shame on you.

Submitted by Tina Plumer-Butler (not verified) on June 2, 2012 2:04 pm

Its funny how people hide behind their comments. Behind all the screaming and yelling is the truth!!!! And your right, the best offer is not having to deal with dishonest people like you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 2:18 pm

No it shows you don't know how to hanle a conflict'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 2:34 pm


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:24 pm

You don't even know me and yet you call me dishonest. Are you trying to make people believe in you. Please tell the readers about the show you put on in front of the SAC and the teachers. It was terrible to watch you in action. I hated sitting there and listening to you scream. I wish I could have changed the channel!

Submitted by Tina Plumer-Butler (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:32 pm

Well don't worry, after June 14th, you can find you another channel to watch.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:36 pm

Your rude behavior can never be erased! Check your dates you are giving wrong information again.

Submitted by Tina Plumer-Butler (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:09 pm

Well allow me to give you some correct information. Get over it. Its over. We all are frustrated and tired of this whole situation. I came on here to say how I felt just like everyone else. Like me or not and I really don't care, but at the end of the day I have a right just like everyone else on that SAC had their right to vote the way they wanted and say what they felt. I am not the whole SAC so won't you please direct your attention to the other SAC members that decided because it was their right, not to support the teachers proposal anymore. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:30 am

You still did not acknowledge your "Jerry Springer like" behavior at your last SAC meeting - Write on the web how you screamed and yelled at the top of your lungs! Write about how rude and arrogant you were in front of your own children. Write about how child-like your behavior was" - Go ahead TIna - If you are so transparent, so honest - share your own actions on the web before you go and criticize someone else.

I was there. I saw and so did everyone else, your behavior.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:17 pm

I am a sac member and I was at that meeting. She was not the only one in that room screaming. I have been reading everyones comments and the sac was accused of being swayed and taking bribes. They have a right to defend themselves.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:08 pm

NO SAC wasn't accused of taking the bribe - Universal was accused of bribiing the SAC - there is a big difference in those two sentences.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:49 pm

Sac members were sent emails accusing them of taking bribes. There is proof of this. Most sac members still have this email in there cell phones. I wonder why only certain members got this email? Maybe because certain sac members know who sent it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 1:47 pm

That email wasn't from the teachers!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone knows who the email was from!!!!!!!! So stop blaming the teachers. I got the email sent to me - look at the history of it - it wasn't from teachers. It is so easy to trace emails.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 2:29 pm

In my comment i did not say that any teacher sent that email, I did say that some sac members did not get the email. Everyone did not know who sent it and if you knew who sent it, how come you did not share that information? A lot of sac members were really upset and hurt by that email. I was at that sac meeting and people were screaming about their reputations. It was so unfair. Maybe you should have shared your information with the other members.

Submitted by bekim321 (not verified) on June 3, 2012 8:43 pm

If this is the email in question: here is a copy of the one I sent:

"I have heard that after the vote was put in for the teachers proposal it was the majority vote, and there was an offer for a re-vote but no one did, so please explain why now you have an urge to change your vote, please reply so I can send this along with multiple emails to the Office Of the Inspector General to do a thorough investigation of the Universal Companies bribery attempt on Friday May 18,2012. What were you offered in exchange to change your mind."

I am a concerned parent as many of you are, if you read the email correctly, you would see that I am talking about Universal, I asked a simple question, not accusing you or any of the SAC members, the other question I have is, how did they (Universal) get all the contact information for the SAC members, including the teacher.

Submitted by bekim321 (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:18 pm

FYI I only sent that to Lisa, because she emailed an invitation for the private meeting with the src and universal

Submitted by lisa (not verified) on June 8, 2012 12:33 am

first of all please don't put my name on all this, I was always for universal and never the teachers proposal. That's first and full most. Second I am not a child and yes you sent it to me but why, if you were at every meeting you would know I have always faught for universal, because they have everything in their package. Third of all, I know never to agree to something I have n.o knowledge of

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 8, 2012 7:43 pm

UNiversal has everyhting that is corrupt - you will see

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:55 pm

Why are you so concerned about Tina? She was criticized just like the rest of us. If you are angered by this, shouldn't your focus be on what your next move is? Its really a waste of time.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:03 pm

Did you get the memo about someone else s husband secretly wanting Universal?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 4:54 pm

No, Shame On You for blaming one persons hostility for all the stuff that's been going on before it got to this point. I mean I heard some stories about Creighton that were not all good.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 4:16 pm

No, shame on you. How can you blame one persons hostility for problems that were existing long ago. I have heard stories about Creighton that were not good. To blame one person for a system that has been failing our children for a long time now is totally unfair. Although her actions should not be excused it does give you the right to blame anyone.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 8:22 pm

All you could come up with was that she screamed and yelled in a meeting? What about everything else that was said? Did the teachers really take advantage of the situation? Those are questions that should be asked.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 10:07 am

I bet if she would have screamed and yelled on behalf of those teachers you would be okay with it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:29 am

Everyone seems to forget that teachers still have jobs - they don't need to fight for their jobs - they can go to another school. And if Creighton is as bad as everyone says it is - them lucky them. They get forced transferred before the rest: so they get first choice!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 2:49 pm

What did you teach your children? What I see that you taught them - stand up for something, have people believe in you, have them trust you and when the better offer comes in - take it and forget about everyone else. I know I don't teach my children this. You are not teaching your children about how to deal with a difference of opinion. Did they hold signs for Creighton and then you had them hold signs for Universal? Did your family speak in favor of Creighton and then in favor of Universal.? Did your children, other children and teachers hear you scream in the auditorium? This is not how differences are resolved. I am so sadden by your words and actions. You have to live with your actions but they will be remembered by all in a negative way.

Submitted by Tina Plumer-Butler (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:39 pm

Not that I have to explain myself to you or anyone else for that matter but just like I say to anyone on this site my name is not ANONYMOUS!!!! I don't owe you, the teachers, or anyone else for that matter, and if I did not appreciate the way I was made to feel than that's my choice. I am not the SAC I am one person who decided not to go along with the teachers proposal anymore!!! What about everybody else who decided to change their mind!!! Are you really giving me that much credit for everyone else changing their mind as well!! Really!!! Its like being in an abusive relationship you may care about the person but you know you have to leave!! If you decided to continue to stay and get abused that's on you!!! You sound familiar I'm wondering if this is the same person that lobbied for STRING THEORY more than the teachers!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:58 pm

String theory is a better choice then your choice now but I wanted Creighton to remain a public school. That was your mission too, but you were swayed.

Submitted by Tina Plumer-Butler (not verified) on June 2, 2012 3:43 pm

If that makes you feel better to believe that than by all means go for it. It is a beautiful day today, and I refuse to waste anymore of it on the laptop that I paid for. I am going to spend the rest of this beautiful day with my wonderful children.

Submitted by hmm (not verified) on June 2, 2012 4:19 pm

and I hope Gamble's 11 pieces of silver buys some delicious ice-cream.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 6:07 pm

You come off as rude as the person your talking about. I wanted String Theory and it didn't happen but you don't see me on here trying to slander people. You need to grow up. I bet you had some of that ice cream too.

Submitted by hmm (not verified) on June 2, 2012 6:36 pm

It didn't happen because certain parties didn't want it to happen. Then there was a secret dinner, and the people who held said dinner are making a lot of money.

Connect the dots and stop mixing your metaphors.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 10:39 pm

You owe it to your children to support the best possible education for them.

If you feel that the scam Kenny Gamble is running will provide that for them, then I guess all those superfluous exclamation points are warranted.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 7:54 am

The sdp has been running a scam for years.

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