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Councilwoman Bass calls for school-closings moratorium, cites openness and safety concerns

By the Notebook on Jan 11, 2013 04:17 PM
Photo: Bas Slabbers for NewsWorks

Councilwoman Cindy Bass joined dozens for a Save Germantown High rally in December.

by Brian Hickey

With both a Northwest Philadelphia public meeting and the School Reform Commission's regular session looming next week, City Councilwoman Cindy Bass told NewsWorks on Friday that the District should wait at least a year before instituting its school-closure proposal.

"Although I understand the need for the School District to search for innovative ways to save money," Bass said, "I'm concerned that the District's recommended closing of 37 schools was done with haste and without considering many important intangible factors.

"The School District should abstain from any type of decision on school closures for a year, during which time it should publicize the process used in reaching logical conclusions for school closing."

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Comments (66)

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on January 11, 2013 5:43 pm

The demand for a one year moratorium on school closings is gaining traction with impacted communities and with city council:   Go to the PCAPS website for more information:

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 12, 2013 11:30 am
Mr. Whitehorn, what are you hoping will happen in this year's time? The FMP has been out for some time now. If anyone should've been involved in a comprehensive evaluation of this plan, it should've been City Council along with Mayor Nutter. Why are they speaking up so late in the game? Where are their solutions? Although I agree that we should be wary of privatization, I don't see many constructive alternatives being proposed. Self interest rules even in public institutions. The current one is failing, and no one seems able to overcome the bureaucratic structure to do what is right for the kids; therefore, I can't agree that the charters are solely a result of a coordinated conspiracy. BCG's plan at least would've broken up the bureaucracy some, and given the PSD a greater chance of survival. True, nonprofits might've been influenced by the interests of donors and board members; but at least they wouldn't all have been the same ones as they are at the PSD, and some healthy competition benefiting the kids might have resulted.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 12, 2013 2:48 pm
If reform is the goal, why are these folks scorned and ignored in the more affluent suburbs? Healthy competition??? Charters cherry pick the kids they want and STILL fall below the traditional schools in testing. How does that happen? There's no conspiracy!! Look at the facts for the last 10 years beginning at the inception of the SRC. Do the names, Vallas and Ackerman ring a bell? Have you read the Ed. history of Bill Hite?, The Broad Foundation?, Kenny Gamble?, John Q. Porter?, Dwight Evans? Tom Corbett? Even Pedro has his dirty hands in Charters. Conflict of interests? Maybe you missed it but there's a nation wide move by corporate america to make money through "Education." By the way, ALEC is all about that. This is all so obvious even George Costanza would blush. As Alan Dershovitz would say, "It doesn't even pass the giggle test." BCG----Are you kidding me?? Lower Merion is cut 1/28 of Phila. and that doesn't seem "curious" to you?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 12, 2013 2:12 pm
In the more affluent suburbs, a school would never be operating at 20% capacity. It would have been closed long earlier, because the parents wouldn't stand for such inefficiency by the school district. Actually a school probably wouldn't even fall to that level, since the smaller size of the district would have allowed the parents to effect change and teachers/principals/etc. would have been replaced before 80% of the students left, if things weren't fixed. One of the big problems is the size of the SDP. There are only two groups that benefit from the arrangement: unions (much more power in having one giant labor union city-wide, than a bunch of localized ones), and contractors (much easier to make a lot of money if you only have to convince one or to administrators to buy your product). Parents and students would benefit from having much smaller units of governance, in which they could actually have voice. (A city-wide elected school board wouldn't provide that. The city is too big--it would just be another political office, controlled by unions/corporations). Right now, the only place to find this type of small-size, truly local school where parents have a voice is in the well-run charters. Ironically, the good charters actual provide a much more "democratic" and "community-based" education than the SDP does.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 12, 2013 4:46 pm
Then Joe, what do you think is an alternate solution? I don't believe cynicism is an answer.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 12, 2013 5:23 pm
Levity isn't cynicism. I apologize though if I hurt your feelings. I don't trust these "reformers" a little bit and see the deliberate, natural consequences of this reform movement and it ain't good.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 12, 2013 7:20 pm
You probably mean "verity" not "levity". Don't worry you haven't hurt my feelings, because I understand and sympathize with your point of view. We know the PSD is not meeting the needs of many families, so we need a solution. If the solutions being used right now fall short, we need "more better" solutions, otherwise (as someone once said) if we can't be part of the solution, we are part of the problem.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 12, 2013 8:29 pm
No, I think I meant levity but I'm Irish so who knows. I would suggest it is NOT the PSD but society circa 2013. People of color have simply not been treated fairly nor have they for 300 years. Blatant systemic racism is the culprit. Look at what Corbett has done as exhibit A. Bull Connor and George Wallace would approve and I guess David Duke too. P.S. You can call it classism too if it goes down easier.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 13, 2013 10:36 pm
If you cant explain it pull the race card. If you dont have an answer for it pull the race card. If you cant defend it pull the race card. Its amazing how many uses the race card has. It can be used any time, any place and any time. The schools are horribly run and a drain on the tax payers dollars. Its inefficient and its political but I can tell you this much. No one is saying, hey lets close the schools the black people use.
Submitted by Chrissie Raysor (not verified) on January 15, 2013 7:31 pm
Charter schools are public schools, and as such can not "cherry pick" students. I speak from experience, as I work for a cyber charter school. We admit all students who apply by submitting the completed enrollment packet and PDE required documentation, as long as they were not expelled from their previous school. Many of our students come to us underperforming due to their experiences at their prior school, and so we have an uphill battle I'm catching them up and giving th the skills and confidence to succeed and learn, and plan for a different future than they assumed they'd have. We monitor attendance, call the parents with each day of not logging in. We report to the school districts when students have unlawful absences, as it is the school districts who deal with truancy proceedings. Our teachers, advisors, counselors, student services, and Help Desk employees are top-knotch individuals who work tirelessly to help save the lives and futures of so many of the students that local brick-and-mortars were unable to reach. Also, not all cyber schools are for-profit. The Pennsylania Leadership Chartee School is a non-profit.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 15, 2013 8:19 pm
You need to take a cold shower. Get over yourself.
Submitted by Chrissie Raysor (not verified) on January 15, 2013 8:15 pm
What a well thought out, rational response. Thank you for your contribution.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 15, 2013 8:23 pm
I'm sorry but you seem to be a statue in dire need of a pedestal. You're a teacher not the President of the USA.
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Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 14, 2013 12:12 am
Ms. Cheng, The problem with the FMP was that there were a limited number of community meetings. If the FMP was going to be so binding, then there should have been more meetings and the process should have been more public. Why bring the BCG into the picture when we already had an FMP? Why, for so long, was the BCG plan under wraps? Why were there no community meetings for the BCG plan? These are PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The process needs to be PUBLIC! EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 14, 2013 8:01 am
The plan was published by the Notebook and was accessible online for over a year. I went to a pre-FMP plan public meeting in my neighborhood, and was even treated to a personalized letter invitation to attend the other meetings the next year. It looked to me like the meeting cost the District plenty (plenty of people in suits enacting what felt like a textbook/well trained business meeting). How Council missed this information, especially when they o.k'd a raise in property taxes to help the District is beyond me. It is o.k. to ask to be treated intelligently, something that did not happen with the BCG plan (but of course much of their work they would have wanted to keep proprietary); however, the end plan was not fairly evaluated by the public, who were led by fears of change. There were elements of the plan that made a lot of sense. Now PCAPS wants the City to consider Cincinnati's (at last I've spelled it right) solution to keep their public schools open at diminished capacity, and guess what? They are being kept open by nonprofits, and other community organizations that are DONATING money. Did I not hear the word "nonprofit" equated to privatization here in Philly? How foolish do our protesters look, when there are parents who don't send their kids to these schools among them? A city of residents who basically can't "connect the dots". To top it off, not one has come up with a viable solution. I have one: circulate and hold accountable those who sign it, a sign-up sheet amongst the protesters with school age children, promising they'll send their children to these school(s). Then when the enrollment reaches the necessary level, the school(s) can stay open.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on January 14, 2013 9:22 am

Ms. Cheng:  There surely is a difference between developing partnerships at the school level with non-profits, something that has been going on in Philadelphia on a limited scale for years, and contracting out the management of schools to companies, be they profit or non-profit.

As for your implication that PCAPS has parents that don't send their children to "these schools" and thus is guility of hypocrisy I would say this.   The overwhelming majority of parents of who come to PCAPS sponsored events send their children to public schools, including those impacted by closings.   And, if they don't they are still welcome in our coalition as people who are concerned with the fate of public education in our city.   

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 14, 2013 9:52 am
The procurement of community services is contracted out in the Cincinnati community schools. The nonprofits are contributing goods and services to the community, and the disclosure is not complete about what they are receiving in monetary compensation in order to be able to do so. Perhaps they are more efficient in management... perhaps this is the element that our public should have kept as a factor in evaluating (which is not the same as adopting) BCG's plan. PCAPS may be made of parents who enroll their children in the schools that are slated for closure. I was one too, and believe me I was working on making our school worth going to for the 6 years prior to its appearance on the FMP. At the point it was slated for closure, it was ludicrous of the parents that never came to any of the school meetings to protest. Yes hypocritical, and self serving (almost like the hated corporations we like to villainize). PCAPS needs to convince the other parents (and yes there was one that the Notebook interviewed at a public FMP meeting that sent his children to a charter rather than his neighborhood school) that their particular neighborhood school is worth going to. That is the real work that needs to be done. Get a petition - sign them up. What are PCAPS parents/caregivers willing to do to make their school the better choice over a charter?
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on January 12, 2013 2:56 pm

Ms Cheng, what PCAPS hopes will happen is the following:   First we would press the city's political and civic leadership to develop a plan to utilize space in under enrolled schools, making them community schools that would be hubs for social services.   Cincinnati School District is a case study in how such a plan could work and benefit the community (for a detailed description go to our website:  www.wearePCAPS   Some of these ideas are already gaining traction with community leaders and some elected officials.


Secondly we would focus on addressing the long term causes of declining enrollment.   One, under funding that leave neighborhood schools without the resources to make sustained improvements.   And, two, a charter school law and policy that creates an uneven playing field and drain students and social capital from neighborhood public schools.   PCAPS  addresses both these issues in our plan.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 12, 2013 2:37 pm
so it is your contention that these schools can be fixed? what evidence do you have that it can be done? why prolong the inevidible. the facilities management plan doesn't go far enough. there are plenty of other schools that need to be closed. trying to save the likes of a germantown or a strawberry mansion is a waste of everyone's time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 12, 2013 2:42 pm
The cause of declining enrollment is that the neighborhood schools, by and large, offer an education that parents perceive as inferior to charter schools. It's not a vast conspiracy, It's not some political shenanigans. Big corporations aren't forcing the parents of Philadelphia to take their kids out of neighborhood schools. The very inadequate education (and safety in some cases) was there before the charters. The fact that many parents things the neighborhood schools are so bad that it's worth trying a charter is what's driving decline in enrollment. Are the parents right? I don't know, but true efforts to save neighborhood schools require constant efforts to fix them. Not sudden political posturing when the District finally gets enough of a backbone to do something fiscally responsible and potentially unpopular. I hate charter schools, in theory. They shouldn't exist, because neighborhood schools should be hubs of the community providing all kinds of social services, etc. Unfortunately the political interests in traditional public school systems (mostly unions and contractors) have made such a disastrous mess of the SDP (and some other systems nationwide), that real solutions from the districts seem almost impossible. By the time unions, big contractors, and a bureaucracy is done with any idea, it's so warped beyond its original good intention that it doesn't achieve its goals. The reality is that an increase in funds for neighborhoods schools, under current political conditions would go first to unionized workers. Not more or better unionized workers. Just biggest paychecks for them--because as soon as the District wasn't broke, the PFT, CASA, et al., would insist on raises, etc. By the time that was ironed out, there'd be little left to do anything else. And if anything was left, it would probably go to buying some useless District-wide McGraw Hill product that only served the needs of a small number of schools. Thus, many people interested in creating schools that do serve the functions you outline throw their support behind charters -- where the extra dollars really will go do provide more support and services, not just a higher salary scale for the union, and maybe the purchase of another "literacy solution" from McGraw Hill. I'm also super frustrated that the people who envision what I think would be ideal never present any realistic plan for getting there. What is PCAPS actual plan for making this happen? Not the "Ideally, we'd fundamentally reshape the education system" plan. I mean the "How does the School District of Philadelphia move forward next year, with the political and fiscal realities it faces?" The DIstrict is beyond broke. You can argue day and night about why/causes/long-term things to fix it. But the reality is that the School District of Philadelphia has no money. And failing to recognize that in the past 3-5 years is what has but the SDP in the bind its in now, where creative an innovative solutions aren't going to be enough. There's just no way to fix a several-hundred-million-dollar budget problem without cutting things (closing schools, layoffs, etc.). That's the reality that the SDP is operating in. Waiting to make inevitable cuts just eats up more money that could be put toward making positive changes.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on January 12, 2013 3:34 pm

There is not a vast conspiracy.   There is a well funded, deliberate attempt to refashion education as market driven with schools operating as businesses, free of any constraints by unions, parents and other citizens.

While you say you hate Charters in theory you seem to like them in practice.  I like them in theory (the orginal theory where they would serve as catalysts for for postive changes in public schools) but don't much like them in practice.  

I believe the alternatives that PCAPS outlines are realistic, that is they could readily be done if there was the political will to do them.   The realism that the District envisions will mean some combination of huge cuts in salaries, elimination of things like prep time and caps on class size, and lay offs.   None of these things will improve schools.   As far charters I don't believe the "churn and burn" labor regime at many, if not most, of them is sustainable or good for children.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 13, 2013 1:11 pm
One person's "vast conspiracy" is another person's "well funded deliberate attempt." No matter how anybody cuts this ugly cake, the results will not even remotely improve education but will destroy unions and livable wages for lots of folks who vote democratic and don't minimize that motivation. Of course, it will also make money for corporate America which is always a priority for varmints like these.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 13, 2013 4:22 pm
Well stated post. Thank you. My neighborhood school saw this flight of parents/caregivers for more than 6 years before the program was finally closed for low and steadily falling enrollment. They did nothing to address the reasons why these parents were leaving. So this protest of closures makes no sense. Take a look at the community schools that PCAPS say can work here. The irony is PCAPS will have to let go of the great conspiracy scapegoat first. Cleveland has welcomed the evil (the same ones BCG recommended) nonprofits (like United Way, and local universities) to cohabitate their schools at their donors' expense, to justify getting and spending 1 billion from taxpayers (can our protestors agree to paying these additional taxes because they trust these community organizations?); and lo and behold, those evil nonprofits seem to be boosting the academic achievement of the kids - who would've thought.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 13, 2013 4:54 pm
Oh so sorry Cinncinnati, for writing Cleveland instead! Cinncinnati it is, not Cleveland.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 15, 2013 8:09 pm
, "Big corporations aren't forcing the parents of Philadelphia to take their kids out of neighborhood schools" >> You must know on some level that perceptive people are not buying this line of thinking. These coordinated efforts to shut down District schools are so transparent. You hate charter schools? The hubs of the community that you cite SHOULD BE THE HUBS OF THE COMMUNITY. You are buying into the "teachers and princpals want raises" thing and that the unions and contractors ar starving the district? Please @@. My antenna and your writing style tell me you are not just another interested citizen.
Submitted by Mister Tibbs (not verified) on January 12, 2013 3:07 pm
When addressing the long term causes of declining enrollment we must acknowledge the elephant in the room. While a majority of schools and classrooms are filled with administrators and teachers who are kind, respectful of everyone, enthusiastic, and eager about teaching and learning, there are too many schools and classrooms in lower economic areas that are poorly managed by administrators, teachers, and support staff. This small but toxic group of people are no longer effective, responsible employees who add value to the educational setting. Spanning across race, ethnicity, and gender they complain about everything, hide behind their union, refuse to be accountable, blame students for their lack of ability to teach and/or manage, are easily irritated, and feel negative about everyone around them including the children they are supposed to help educate. They suck the life out of a positive school climate and have drained academic potential from thousands of children once eager to learn. They are chronically absent and/or late and engage in behaviors in the work place that would never be tolerated in private industry. As a result of our unwillingness to acknowledge the elephant in the room there are a large number of parents who remember their own unpleasant school experiences. They are desperate for a positive learning environment for their children where they are treated with kindness and respect and provided with opportunities to learn. Wanting their children to excel and grow into successful adults they are searching, justifiably, for what they deem the best opportunity for their children. Each one of us, educators in particular, who add to this dialogue chooses the same kind of excellence for our own children.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 12, 2013 4:06 pm
Mr. Tibbs I would agree with you. Almost $14,000 per child seems to be sufficient for private schools like Friends. The PSD is getting this despite Ackerman squandering the Federal Stimulous grant. Principals and teachers "looking the other way" was not caused by Ackerman and her alleged co-conspirators.
Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on January 14, 2013 4:14 pm
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 12, 2013 7:29 pm
How very true! Our school went from a jewel of our small community in West Philly to a K-8 monstrosity with incompetent, arrogant, and punitive administration who choose to punish teachers for the lack of progress, poor attendance, atrocious behavior, and lack of motivation in our children. These are the people who have infested the schools with their toxicity. Close the schools that need to be closed and put the displaced and effective administrators where they are needed.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 12, 2013 3:38 pm
Geez, Dude, you're all over the place but I suspect you're anti union and can't seem to get out of your own way in trying to appear objective. Would you be OK with you to have a 2 Tiered Ed. System in Urban America?? I hope not but that's what the result will be if this corporate raid is allowed to continue. Tom "One Term" Corbett thinks that goal is just fine as evidenced by his building 3 new prisons in Northwest PA. Read the history of unions and The Constitution of the U.S., just to name 2 sources about which, you seem to know little. The District is broke because Tom Terrific has orchestrated it. This still happens to be the USA and our goal better continue to be an even playing field for all the kids not just some of them while dooming the remainder for either very menial work or prisons. In general, do yourself a favor and read more so you can better separate facts from feelings. P.S. Stay away from Fox News.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 12, 2013 4:47 pm
A few facts: Not all charter schools get to pick their student, nor do all charters want to. The charters that cherry pick kids are a problem for district schools AND for charters doing things the right way. Most independent charters are committed to providing a great education for children, being a resource for the community and having the freedom to create innovative practices. People hate cyber charter schools, but the reality is that because of cybers technology is now being brought into all types of schools in new and innovative ways. Proclaiming that charters are not testing to the the level of district schools is ludicrous. Check your facts and look at how district schools (other than a few magnets) compare to charters. Then consider that charters do not get facilities funding, access to many grant programs and are funded at approximately 75% of the per pupil expenditure for district schools and you have a problem. Here'e a three step real solution: 1. Close under performing schools that are under enrolled. This has to happen and should've happened years ago 2. Make sure that the district truly holds charters accountable. Schools that have improper enrollment practices and/or exclusion practices should be closed immediately. It shouldn't matter if they are a small charter or a nationally known charter group. Holding charters accountable in this manner would return students to district schools and/or charters that truly deserve to grow (based on real numbers with students enrolled in a fair manner). 3. Keep viable schools open (even if they are under enrolled) and develop a plan to improve those schools and recapture students from charters, private and Catholic schools. Good performing, but under enrolled schools could recruit/enroll children from charters shuttered for the reasons given above and/or closing under performing district schools. One additional thought would be to have the union take over a Renaissance School. This would prove how well unionized teachers can deliver sound education. This sounds like the makings of a plan.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on January 12, 2013 5:27 pm
Weeding out all the charters that in some way restrict enrollment will eliminate a lot of charters. For example, CHAD has a very extensive enrollment package. Prep Charter HS requires a transcript, test scores, etc. with an application. Mastery has its "by any means necessary" document, Boys Latin requires parents to attend a meeting before applying and then a during the day interview with the student, ... The list is long. There are quality teachers in every school. Unfortunately, the teachers who shouldn't be there are kept - for a variety of reasons. There should be a way to get rid of the teachers who pull everyone down but relying on administrative recommendations isn't it. We have too many lousy administrators. Yes, charter schools also have some lousy teachers and administrators.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 13, 2013 3:19 am
the only district high schools that don't require some type of admissions process are the neighborhood high schools and they're being closed or turned into renaissance schools (charterized). if high school is important, it makes sense to insist on the parent and the student to be clear on what type program they seek to enroll.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on January 13, 2013 8:45 am
Charters are NOT suppose to have any admission requirements. It is suppose to be a lottery if more apply than the number of spaces. Any charter that requires more than a name, address, proof of residence is not following the admission process.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 13, 2013 9:47 am
I guess it's a matter of interpretation. you can't say you're offering choice but not allow the people making the choice a chance to see what they're choosing. charter high schools typically have specific community standards or unique courses of study. there has to be an opportunity to describe those specifics to potential enrollees. requests for academic records, iep's, or letters of recommendation prior to acceptance is illegal. but you guys always exaggerate charter admissions policies and I don't know all those schools do what you say they do. you didn't respond to my point that only district high schools that are horrid have no admissions criteria. is that what you want charters to turn into?
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on January 13, 2013 10:06 am
Have you been in all District neighborhood high schools? I doubt it. It is very offensive to call all "horrid." Many perform better than a number of charter high schools. (Yes, look it up.) That said, look at the charter web sites and you'll see the admission requirements. As a parent of 3 children who have applied to Philly high schools, I know the process. I've looked through the applications. Charters are suppose to have no more admission requirements than neighborhood schools. Therefore, they are cheating / skimming to get a certain "type" of student. Some charters are also quick to dump students because of attendance, one fight, etc. Neighborhood schools accept everyone in the catchment. What do you plan on doing with all the students who won't go through the hoops for charters, have poor attendance and/or can't get into a magnet school? All students have the right to a K-12 public education. Are you going to "warehouse" the "horrid" students you claim attend neighborhood high schools? Charters need to open up their admission process so it is equitable and based on a blind lottery. Charters already are "skimming" just by requiring a student to apply. As long as charters have admission requirements, they are magnet schools. This is inherently unfair and violates the charter law.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 13, 2013 1:28 pm
what you are advocating is a bad education for all in the name of equality. we punish those who would do right by tying their fortunes to those who won't. school choice is commonplace in philly and if you want proof of that just look at the strawberry mansion story: 2054 in the catchment area, 332 attend the school. 600 in charters, 1100 in other district schools. if 85% of this neighborhood can learn to access educational options, that's proof enough that it works. and sorry if this offends you but i'll bet the 1700 is doing better than the peers they left behind. and i'll bet almost everyone in town would be ok with an 85% success rate.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on January 13, 2013 3:50 pm
You use one school - Strawberry Mansion - to promote "choice." What about Northeast HS, Fels, Lincoln, Washington and even Franford? They are packed. There are other smaller neighborhood high schools who certainly are doing as well or even better than the likes of World Communication Charter which was recently renewed. Phila. obviously has a lot of "choice" for high school but there are students who will never qualify for magnet/special admit District schools nor charters - the vast majority have admission requirements or methods of "weeding out" students who don't "fit" with their criteria. Charters, as I have written, by law may have no other requirements than a neighborhood school although most do. Again, as I wrote, all students K-12 may have a free education so the District has to provide it. In many neighborhoods, it is not nearly 85% opting out. The opting out of the neighborhood schools is a results of Vallas taking magnet programs out of most neighborhood schools other than Northeast. If all neighborhood schools offered a magnet and/or other special admit programs, student would return. We need to combine the small special admit schools with neighborhood high schools - yes, students can learn in the same buildings and have gym and electives together.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 13, 2013 4:09 pm
if you believe that frankford, fels, and lincoln are good high schools, then i guess we don't have the same idea of what "good" is. you chose world comm as an example of a bad charter, but they send a higher percentage of students to college than any of the schools you mention. the reason neighborhood schools are so bad is because there are no standards. you want the charters to be the same way. all students are eligible for a free and appropriate education. that doesn't mean most students should be prohibited from that education because some students fail to appreciate the value of that education. it's not the fault of vallas, corbett, nutter, hite, or even ackerman. the model for urban public education has evolved. the model of government-run schools only has had its day. the diverse provider model is the best hope for low-income neighborhoods. every school you described as a good one has the competition of a quality charter in their neighborhood. vaux and mansion don't. germantown's numbers have been decimated by imhotep and new media. if there were more charter seats available i don't think fels, frankford, lincoln, or washington would survive. let's look at who's left: southern, edison, roxborough, franklin, west, all the kensingtons, overbrook, bartram, and sayre. nobody is clamoring to go to any of them. your prejudice against charters may be clouding your judgement. the facts don't support your claims.
Submitted by Chrissie Raysor (not verified) on January 15, 2013 8:41 pm
The admission "requirements" are the same as from any public school - name, address, transcripts, verification of age and residence.
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Submitted by The Time is Right (not verified) on January 13, 2013 8:15 am
I agree. The time is right for some teacher-led schools in this city. It's been done in other parts of the country. Why not here? I welcome the opportunity to collaborate with my teacher colleagues and put together a plan for improving student achievement at our school. I welcome the opportunity to be flexible and innovative. Let US make the decisions about purchases, spending, and staffing. Give us the same 5 years to improve learning outcomes that is given to charters (Of course, we all know that some charters have been given a pass on that). Then hold us accountable at the end of the five years.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 13, 2013 10:52 am
The whole purpose and intent of charter schools and the Pennsylvania Charter School Law was to create teacher led schools. But the opposite has resulted. In the "legislative Intent" section of the Charter School Law, it states that in clear language which even a "basic level" reader can understand. But instead, what has happened is that those who wish to turn charter schools into their own private little businesses for profit, have corrupted the process and intent of charter schools. That is not unique to Philadelphia. It has happened in every city in America. It is an intentional step in the process of the privatization Agenda which is being promoted behind closed doors by those who are positioning themselves to capitalize off of the backs of schoolchildren and the taxpayers. In all of the research on effective schools, collaborative school cultures are found to be superior to top down autocratic cultures which the school district has become. The proof is in the pudding -- look at the mess our district has become. That is what happens when collaborative -- democratic practices - are stripped from a school community.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 13, 2013 5:11 pm
You are not speaking from facts, but rather your skewed viewpoint. Not all charters are corporate minded, skim students or steal funds. In fact, those are the minority. Why not paint all schools with the same broad strokes. Do all district schools have incredible violence, sweep serious incidents under the rug, have multiple sexual harassment cases and teachers sleeping with students? No, but it has and is happening in a few district schools. You insult everyone with your insistence on speaking in generalizations and wild stereotypes. Your ignorance, incompetence and professional insecurity show through in your posts.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 13, 2013 8:08 pm
Who said that all charters are corporate minded? Many charters were founded by dedicated educators who wanted to do good things for students and escape '"the bureaucracy." Most of them have really dedicated teachers, too. I have never been in a charter school that I didn't like. Many are still being operated for the right reasons. We do not know for sure because only a few of them operate with open transparency. By Law in Pennsylvania, and I quote it here: "A charter school must be organized as a public, nonprofit corporation. Charters may not be granted to any for-profit entity." So, you see, all charters are corporate minded because they are, by law, corporations. I am in full support of the charter school concept when charter schools are run as "public schools" for the best interests of children. I could well argue that every school should be a charter school with its own board of trustees -- as long as the charter school is governed and led democratically. However, there is a huge legal difference between a "true charter school" and a school operated by a "charter operator." A HUGE legal difference. I assure you the Walton's and the Broads, etc. are not about 'true charter schools." They are talking about the "charter operator model" that they can buy up and then own our school system. If you want to assess my use of facts, perhaps you should read my book, Whose School Is It? the Democratic Imperative for Our Schools. I discuss all models of school governance with citations to legal authority and actual research studies about effective leaders and effective schools. I also suggest that you read the articles that Tom and others cite on this website. That is, if you want to talk about facts. By the way, answer me this question, "Who owns charter schools?"
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 13, 2013 6:44 pm
Glad you came out swinging, Rich. Get mad but not crazy like me. It's refreshing to see you get" teamster."
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 13, 2013 9:40 pm
I didn't think I was coming out swinging. I was a teamster when I was a CASA member and the teamsters never did a damn thing for me even though CASA is affiliated with the teamsters. But of course, I could "get teamster" if I wanted. But I prefer the "battleground of ideas." And, of course -- a good court battle. That always brings a smile to my face and a sparkle to my eye -- just like your comments.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 14, 2013 4:08 am
teamster? you must be really proud of yourself. this proves my point. this isn't about kids, it's about jobs. you're not educators, you're thugs. Thanks for bringing clarity to this discussion.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 14, 2013 12:16 pm
Oh so union members are thugs in your mind? Are all union members thugs? I apologize. I must have been misguided or misinformed or lost in my moral compass. I have always worn my 20 years of PFT membership and my 14 years as a CASA member as a "badge of honor." Do you think that students, parents, teachers, administrators and charter school leaders have no rights in public schools?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 14, 2013 1:56 pm
all union members are not thugs. but i know the inference in a statement like "going teamster." what did you think that poster meant? while i would agree that all those you mentioned have rights in public school. but, you don't have the right to insist on more funding when it doesn't exist. i also think that the rights you seek may be in sharp contrast with the right s of parents and students. you're like the nobles in braveheart: you use them to gain power. you do not see yourself as having a responsibility to them. shame on you, sir. you don't have the moral high ground you think you do. what you consider a badge of honor is not so honorable. you aren't a coal miner or a truck driver. they need unions. a college educated person who needs a union is almost always using it to inflate their salaries (i.e. airline pilots and professional athletes). you have the ability to do your job without union protection. but if your boss has a union, like a principal, then you see why the teachers believe they need union protection. i think the src should disband the pricipals union. it doesn't serve the interests of public education in this city. i don't think i', the only one intown who feels that way.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 14, 2013 1:32 pm
Dude, you need to go back to 3rd. Grade Grammar Class.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 14, 2013 1:37 pm
maybe. but that doesn't negate the fact that you are on the wrong side of the issue. you know you've been getting away with murder. if my math is correct (i'm sure you'll correct it if it isn't) you've been on the dole for 34 years. have a good day, sparky.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 14, 2013 1:20 pm
I knew exactly what Joe meant. Joe and I have been having a healthy dialogue about zealous representation of the "rights of the people." He feels I am too idealistic and too accepting of the "inconsistencies" of my fellow man, to put it in more pleasant terms than Joe would have. You make an awful lot of assumptions, yet you point to no facts in support of what you say. As to unions, they only ask for "basic fairness." I have worked with students, teachers, parents and principals for over 35 years now and to be honest with you -- The vast majority of teachers and principals are absolutely awesome and wonderful people who I would entrust the lives and well being of my children to. I consider it, in my lifetime, an honor and a privilege to have worked with them and led them. Everyone in America has the "freedom of association" to join together in "mutual protection of their fundamental human right to be treated with decency and respect."
Submitted by tom-104 on January 14, 2013 1:28 pm
"you don't have the right to insist on more funding when it doesn't exist" In the 2011-2012 state budget Corbett cut education funding by $1 billion. In the same budget he increased funding for prisons by $700 million, including three new for profit, private prisons. It all depends what your priorities are.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 14, 2013 2:40 pm
corbett didn't use stimulus money in the budget. rendell did. when you take the stimulus money out of the redell budget, it was less money than corbett's budget. i'm not dedending corbett. but, if you think the taxpayers will go for more money to a bottomless pit, you're kidding yourself.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 14, 2013 2:11 pm
"Dedend" this !!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 14, 2013 2:42 pm
Joe, I know this guy is throwing red meat, but you can't really debate facts with someone who has no idea what he is talking about. Isn't it time to put out a troll alert and ignore him?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 14, 2013 3:12 pm
that's right. treat me like i was one of your students.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 13, 2013 12:59 pm
The good teachers/administrators might find that they would come out ahead in terms of respect and even pay and benefits. Teachers should do this - rise to the challenge :)
Submitted by The Time is Right (not verified) on January 13, 2013 4:11 pm
Thanks for the encouragement, Ms. Cheng. This may surprise many of the teacher-bashers out there, but the ability to make instructional and school governance decisions with my highly-motivated, hard-working teacher colleagues is more of a draw for me than any increase in pay and benefits could ever be. I'm open to many options, including more parent/community involvement in the schools, more in-school time for students (as long as it's productive learning time) and more opportunities for online/blended learning. Once the administration makes it clear that they are ready to embrace teacher-led schools, I predict that many of us will opt to be a part of that movement.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 13, 2013 5:12 pm
It does't matter what the teachers want. The teachers and the union are not the same and they do not necessarily have the same interests. The ability to grieve any decision or program that may be innovative, but require a quick change in contract/working conditions would be slammed by union officials before you could sneeze. Online and blended education leads to less teachers, so the union would balk, as they have before. Incentive based pay pilot programs were nixed by the union also. Can't you see that the union leaders are their own 1%. They profit and benefit off the work of their members and must keep some level of discomfort and chaos in the system to justify their presence and dues membership. This is not an anti-union post, but rather an anti-union leadership post for union leaders who refuse to change, often to the detriment of their members and students.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 13, 2013 5:47 pm
Such optimism and hope will get you far. It is this way with all the classroom teachers (not so with administrators) I have worked with as a parent. Here is where we come to what Mr. Tibbs is speaking about: a toxic culture at the PSD. Teachers who aren't allowed to work on constructive changes because a "higher up" doesn't want to be "outshone". Teachers who become even afraid to speak their honest opinion, and can't/won't even back their colleagues, when those colleagues are doing a good job. If you and some colleagues can take the risk, perhaps you can start your own charter. After all, there are enough "bad"/corrupt ones around it seems. If we take away all the stigma and suspicion that surrounds BCG, the suggestion of "Achievement Networks" might have offered constructive collaboration under less constraint/toxicity. I guess we'll never know.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 15, 2013 8:11 pm
That would be a dream....and I bet it would really make a difference, unlike all the meaningless CYA paperwork we do now.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 13, 2013 9:18 pm
ok so have this lady go door to door and collect the money needed to keep the schools open. I bet these people would change their minds a lot quicker if it was coming out of their pocket instead of mine.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 14, 2013 5:19 am
sounds like a scam. these "community organization" are bankrolled by the pft.

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