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What education advocates said at City Council's school-closure hearings

By the Notebook on Feb 13, 2013 03:56 PM

Philadelphia City Council's hearings yesterday on the school-closings plan featured testimony from a number of Philadelphia's education stakeholders. Some organizations have published their testimony, which are linked to below:

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Comments (24)

Submitted by Rob (not verified) on February 13, 2013 4:13 pm
Can someone who has the data please fact check Mr. Gleason. I have a hard time believing some of the figures that he gave during his testimony
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 13, 2013 5:39 pm
Thankfully, even once co-conspirators of his, have backed off their support. He seems to have a very creative view of the truth, kinda like Willie Sutton. I say, let him speak, the more he says, the sillier his argument.
Submitted by Kristen (not verified) on February 15, 2013 4:50 pm
You can now download the data with sources here:
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 13, 2013 6:28 pm
Most of Gleason's testimony was irrelevant, no matter how "fact-based". The Facilities Master Plan is only about condition and population of buildings. It has nothing to do with academic performance. Citing graduation rates and other numbers is meaningless. Dr. Hite was clear on this at one of the early community meetings. In answer to a question, he said that the district had acknowledged that their SPI data was faulty and that they were looking for another company to revise it, thus it would not be a factor in the school closing decisions. Gleason is neither elected by the people nor appointed by any elected officials. The Philadelphia School Partnership is a private organization which refuses to hold public meetings. He should be more forthcoming about his motives and financial interests next time he speaks. Lisa Haver
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 13, 2013 10:52 pm
Anybody who doesn't already know of Gleason, his history and his motives, just arrived from a place far, far away. He's a statue looking for a pedestal. Let him ramble on.There's nobody left to lie to.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 13, 2013 10:35 pm
Lisa, Could you elaborate on Mr. Gleason's motives and financial interests. I have read a bit about his background on the PSP website (, but that probably doesn't tell the whole story. I would be curious to know anything else about him that you know. Thanks. Education Grad Student
Submitted by Helen Gym on February 14, 2013 6:52 am

via a post I wrote at Young Philly Politics (

Gleason's op-ed in the Inquirer in response to protests against the BCG plan:

I was struck that morning by one mother in particular. She had three girls in tow, two of them elementary-school-age and one too young for school. The two older girls wore blue shirts and khaki pants, and they carried backpacks and lunches that their mother had probably made early that morning.

I wanted to ask the mother about the specifics of her choice for her children. I wanted to ask what she thought about the SRC’s plan to transform the School District and expand the number of great public-school options in Philadelphia. But she was too busy making sure the girls could find seats on the train, tying the littlest one’s shoes, and reminding them about this and that. She was too busy taking advantage of her educational options . . . .

But let’s remember the mother I saw on the train, and the other students on that train and many others. They deserve more great schools closer to home. If we could ask them if it’s important to expand the number of great schools available to them — if it’s worth it to give more kids the same opportunities they’re seizing — I’m sure they would say it is.


Gleason's statements while he served as a New Jersey school board member:

"My problem is with the opposition mounted by the superintendent, board and community on the grounds that a charter school would take public funds away from public schools. The catchphrase of their argument is that Hua Mei would benefit a few at the expense of the many. In fact, that is what public education in America has done for many decades. All taxpayers contribute to cover the educational costs of those taxpayers who choose to have children and then choose to send them to public schools."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 14, 2013 6:14 am
Helen, Thank you. I hope that people read your article at the top of your post. They otherwise might miss your meaning. A fan
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 15, 2013 9:25 am

Here's a response I wrote when Gleason made his "silent majority" pitch last year:

Submitted by Ken Derstine on February 14, 2013 12:27 am
Lisa, This interview with Mark Gleason in the Notebook almost a year ago, given during the almost year long interim between the Ackerman and Hite administrations, is very revealing about the agenda of the Great Schools Compact and the SRC. This statement in the article is especially of interest: Gleason: Facilities is a big question because the District has lots of empty buildings, or underutilized buildings. We’re going to be surveying schools about their level of interest in occupying those buildings…. There’s a potentially mutual benefit. The District wants to shed some of the cost associated with these underutilized buildings, and charter schools are actively acquiring or leasing buildings as they expand… One of the things we’re hoping will come out of the compact is [determining] if there’s a win-win here where charter operators can start to occupy some of these unused District buildings…It makes sense to have a taxpayer-financed school located in a taxpayer owned building.
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on February 14, 2013 1:59 am
gleason is not elected or appointed, but neither is research for action or cooper. in fact, almost all of the problems we face today were caused by the rendell administration's cash without accountability attitude towards public schools. yes, all the problems-district and charter. so let's not make mr. gleason the scapegoat when the real goat was in the room.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 14, 2013 6:16 am
When the SRC signed the Great Schools Compact in November 2011, they gave Mark Gleason and the PSP an unprecedented amount of influence--even before most people knew who they were. The compact, written by the Gates Foundation, specifically names PSP as a funding agent. (You can access the GSC through the SD website; it's not too long.) PSP distributed $9 million to about ten schools last year. Powel Elementary was the only public school on the list; they got $215,000. Universal and Mastery got millions. Gleason says their goal is to give $100 million to area schools. Where is that money coming from? Last year, the Wm. Penn Foundation funneled $15 million to PSP, but their future decisions seem murky right now. Gleason and the PSP are major agents of corporate reform in Philadelphia. They are able to get money from other hedge fund managers and corporations, and since their meetings are not open to the public, we will probably never know who those donors are. Mark Gleason only recently became a resident of Philadelphia. Google the PSP website and you will find hedge fund managers and other businesspeople. You will find no educators. Their own words, posted in Ken's comment above, say it all. They do not represent the community. They represent the corporate interests who want to destroy public education. It is distressing to hear Gleason talk, as he did Tuesday, about how much he has met with the SD and the SRC--especially since the SRC refuses to meet with PCAPS, which represents over 50 community organizations. Lisa Haver
Submitted by Annoy (not verified) on February 14, 2013 7:34 am
Thank you, Lisa. Gleason, Scott Gordon/ Mastery, Universal, Nutter, the SRC, etc. all work for the same cabal that wants to privatize - and increasingly "profitize" - education. Obama's education agenda is no different. Well worth the read - "Empty Promises in Obama's Mis-Education Agenda"
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 14, 2013 11:27 am
I've been saying this about the Obama administration's stance for a few years now. BO is an avid charter school advocate and for people to claim that charter schools are public schools is misleading. If your school is run privately through a private enterprise with MY money, I have something to say about it as should every other citizen. privatize or privatise (ˈpraɪvɪˌtaɪz) ( tr ) to transfer (the production of goods or services) from the public sector of an economy into private ownership and operation
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 14, 2013 6:38 am The PSP holds no public meetings. The Great Schools Compact Committee, which makes certain that the wishes of Bill Gates are carried out here--closing schools, more charters, etc.--holds no public meetings. I have attended meetings at RFA. They gave a major presentation last year on Promise and Renaissance Academies. It was open to the public. Lisa Haver
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 14, 2013 9:44 am
Hi Lisa, Ken and Helen. As usual, you are right on the mark with your posts. I was so appalled at Mark Gleason's speech before city council. His audacity is shocking and what is happening is becoming increasingly alarming. His speech was so dishonest and self serving that it, quite frankly, turned my stomach. The man totally lacks any credibility at all. What is so alarming is that what is happening is an "assault on democracy itself." I have spoken quite often that we need to think deeply about what is happening because of its implications to our common values of democracy. What we have happening here is that a "shadow governance body" has been set up which is making decisions behind closed doors which are being imposed upon the People of Philadelphia. They are not chosen by the "General Electorate." Nor are they appointed by a "public official" who was elected by the "General Electorate." What is worse, as Lisa has often noted, is that the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act is constantly being circumvented. The Sunshine Act embodies crucial constitutional protections made mandatory upon states by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. One of those is open meetings. Another is the "due process right" to participate in the governance and decision-making processes of our public schools. Those rights, and other constitutional rights, are being eroded from the students, parents, teachers and citizenry of Philadelphia. When public schools are privatized, the public loses basic rights. For a preliminary and basic understanding of those issues, I suggest that you read this article: My question for everyone is: Do we want to continue down a course which takes rights away from the very people who have fought so hard to attain those rights?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 14, 2013 10:37 pm
To see what PSP plans to do next, check out the ad placed on Philadelphia's Craig's List, in the education section. PSP's tentacles are spreading. They're partnering with TNTP (The New Teacher Project) to train principals for the Philadelphia Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools (PLUS) program. Any thoughts about who may have given the PSP/TNTP a reason to feel that the District is open to receiving their indoctrinated recruits? Keep digging...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 15, 2013 2:22 am
An announcement was sent from "Great Schools." Applicants will train "on the job" next year as administrators. This is the TFA model for so-called "leadership." We have enough incompetent administrators already - we don't need more with a narrow political agenda and a "Mastery" indoctrination.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 15, 2013 7:04 am
That is certainly a democratic way of choosing our leaders! (Chuckle, Chuckle). Leadership Matters! So does, "How we choose our leaders" matter! It matters so very much. The "school community" should choose its own leaders through an open, honest, inclusive, transparent and ultimately, democratic manner. All principal positions should be advertised publicly and anyone qualified should be encouraged to apply. The worst form of leadership is "imposed leadership." I explained in depth the psycho-dynamics and importance of the "professional community" choosing its own leaders in "Whose School Is It? the Democratic Imperative for Our Schools." So, I guess now PSP and the self appointed pseudo-leader of the district Mark Gleason is setting himself up and PSP up as the "Broad Foundation of Philadelphia" to impose "ideology driven" leadership, which of course, is the worst kind of leadership possible and is really not leadership at all. How we choose our principals and how we remove ineffective principals needs to be placed front center of the "public discussion." All of this stuff going on is becoming so farcical. It is jaw dropping to watch.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 14, 2013 11:16 am
The Bill Gates Foundation is very prevalent in advancing privatizing routes in many states.
Submitted by Ken Derstine on February 14, 2013 7:11 am
If you have any doubt that closing schools is a national agenda of corporate reformers lead by ALEC, the Bill Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Foundation; look at what went down in Chicago yesterday. From Substance News: Hit List pared down to 'only' 129 schools, says Barbara Byrd-Bennett... Latest 'Hit List' is almost exclusively composed of African American schools in poor communities Chicago Public Schools officials, in carefully manipulate press briefings with selected TV reporters, released on February 13, 2013 what they called a pared down version of the 2013 list of schools to be considered for closing. The list is referred to by critics as the "2013 Hit List" of schools to be closed for alleged "underutilization." The announcement was made by a press release that was provided to Substance after some confusion on the part of CPS. The press release was later provided to the public on the CPS website ( In making her announcement, Byrd Bennett repeated the claim, widely challenged by CTU and independent and CTU researchers, that CPS is facing a "billion dollar deficit" and that the so-called "underutilization crisis" can save the system a large amount of money.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 14, 2013 11:49 am
Exactly Ken, this is Citizens United in the educational arena, and that would be the same CU as President Obama objects to. This is about money, control, and union busting. "WE want the best qualified teachers in our classrooms", but that comes with big strings attached and satisfactory years of teacher service have nothing to do with our agenda.
Submitted by JUDITH ROBINSON (not verified) on February 19, 2013 7:56 pm
Well, it is true that low income students have been denied education in this town for a very long time ... Title One funding ,be damn!!! Yes, we all need to work toward ,EDUCATION for all children.... Parents in the area of Penn Alexander "Camp Out "in bitter cold for a chance @a slot for the next kindergarten class -Hooray !!! Folks with no $$$ from 19121,19132 ,fight for equity in the process, get the butt of the jokes ... Get you minds right /ready for education! CHARTER SCHOOLS Administrators, ARE BEING GIVEN THE NAMES AND ADDRESS OF OUR BEST STUDENTS FROM NORTH PHILLY ,who have ever attended public schools ...WE ARE RECEIVING THE MAIL!!! How , who is giving ,selling this data ???! The "great philly" marketing campaign is rolled out , with all of that backing $$$ ,while we battle deadlines and other funky Stuff... PLEASE !!! And STILL we Rise ... Keep working hard ... motto of the day...
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on February 19, 2013 8:09 pm
I agree -get rid of Title I.

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