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SRC votes to close 23 schools, spares 4

By Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner on Mar 8, 2013 03:22 AM
Photo: Harvey Finkle

Members of the School Reform Commission and Superintendent William Hite (far right) sitting during the three-hour long meeting.

After an excruciating day of protests and pleas for mercy, Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to close 23 city schools and merge or relocate five others. (See NewsWorks footage of reaction to one closing.)

Four schools – T.M. Peirce and Bayard Taylor elementary schools, Roosevelt Middle, and Paul Robeson High – were spared.

All told, the SRC approved a total of 28 recommendations put forth by Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite, including three program relocations and a merger of the city’s two high school military academies. 

A total of 25 school programs will be shut down as part of the complicated set of proposals.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” said SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos.

“Nobody wants to do this, much less have to do it at this scale.”

But Ramos said years of financial “gimmicks” and “kicking the can” on tough decisions had finally caught up with the District. With a projected $1.35 billion deficit over the next five years, officials say they can no longer afford to pay for 53,000 “empty seats” in half-empty school buildings across the city. 

By the time the meeting was finished, the SRC had voted to close one of every 10 district-managed schools in the city. 

Among the casualties were Germantown, University City, and Bok Technical high schools.  Supporters mounted passionate defenses of all three schools over the last few months, to no avail.

After the commission’s 3-2 vote to close University City, a large group of students and staff from the school, including cheerleaders in full uniform, hung their heads.

“This is a fiasco! The whole city needs to be shut down!” yelled neighborhood activist Pamela Williams.

Back in December, Superintendent Hite initially placed 37 schools on the chopping block, In February, after hosting a series of community forums and considering 38 grassroots counterproposals, Hite took 10 schools off the original closings list. But he added Beeber Middle and M.H. Stanton Elementary, whose futures will be decided later this spring.

Thursday’s votes came after a massive rally outside School District headquarters, headlined by American Federation of Teachers national president Randi Weingarten.

“Tonight, all across the country, everyone is watching Philly to say, ‘Will the powers that be stand up for the public schools?'” said Weingarten, standing atop a large concrete wall to make herself visible to the throng.

“Fix our schools, don’t close them.”

Inside 440 N. Broad St., a group of protesters then vowed to prevent the SRC entering the auditorium. Nineteen people, including Weingarten and representatives from the Philadelphia Student Union and Youth United for Change, were arrested.

“They were trying to stop the SRC vote from happening because they want to save the schools from closing,” said Andi Perez, executive director of YUC. 

Those arrested were held in the building, then released after being charged with summary offenses for disorderly conduct.

Once the meeting started, a mostly somber mood fell over the room. 

Thirty-one speakers testified.  Many simply pleaded for their schools to be kept open. 

Debra Perry told the SRC she’s been teaching kindergarten at Taylor Elementary in eastern North Philadelphia for almost three decades. 

“What I want to say to you, what is not part of the facts and figures, is what is at the heart of Taylor School,” she said. “We are a family.”

Perry is a 57-year-old cancer survivor. She had never been to an SRC meeting before, and she wasn’t sure her voice would make a difference.  But Perry said she didn’t want her school closed without making her voice heard.

“Taylor School is a place of quiet love,” Perry told the SRC.  “After 27 years, I’m still amazed by the acts of love committed by our staff, for our kids.”

And then it was on to the next speaker.

Many accused the District of using faulty information to make ill-conceived or even dangerous closure recommendations.  Several reiterated their call for a one-year moratorium on any closings.

“A vote to close schools tonight is uninformed and immoral,” said the Rev. Alyn Waller, pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. 

A series of elected officials, including State Reps. Stephen Kinsey and W. Curtis Thomas and City Council members Cindy Bass, Jannie Blackwell, and Curtis Jones, testified as well.

Like many, Thomas criticized the District for the lack of detail in its plan to ensure improved educational opportunities for the 14,000 students expected to be impacted by the closings.

“At a minimum, we should not send them to schools that are as bad, if not worse, then the schools they’re coming out of,” he said. 

About 7:45 p.m., the commissioners started voting. In a unanimous vote, they quickly approved the closure of L.P. Hill and Reynolds elementary schools, both in North Philadelphia.

Then came T.M. Peirce Elementary.

In the first of numerous challenges to Hite’s proposals, Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky questioned the wisdom of closing Peirce, then sending an estimated 182 students to Kenderton Elementary. Kenderton was recently designated for conversion to charter because of its poor academic performance, meaning the District would have to pay more for each student even though they were going to a worse school.

“I’m concerned that one reason for the Pierce proposal is the need to increase the number of students at Kenderton to an economically supportable level for a charter operator,” Dworetzky said.

“If that’s the case, I regard it as very unwise.”

Commissioner Sylvia Simms, whose granddaughter attends Peirce, also reiterated her concerns about the long and dangerous walk that some of the school’s students would face daily if they were reassigned to E.W. Rhodes, the other option put forth by district staff.

The commission voted unanimously to spare Peirce, then quickly voted to close five other schools in North Philadelphia.

Next up was Taylor.

Dworetzky again challenged the District’s reasoning, offering hope to Perry and the rest of the contingent from the school.

He then voted to keep Taylor open.

Commissioner Feather Houstoun, clearly torn, asked for more time. The room – Taylor staff and parents standing with clutched hands, protesters with signs standing face to face with police – hushed.

After the unanimous vote to spare Taylor, Perry silently began to cry.

“I can’t wait to go back and tell my kids they can stay,” she said.

After that, though, the news for schools was mostly grim. Historic Germantown High was closed. In a surprise move, the commission rejected a proposal to close nearby Roosevelt Middle School, responding to criticisms that central Germantown was in danger of losing all its District schools. But then the SRC voted to close Pepper and Shaw middle schools in West Philadelphia.

Despite months of pleas from students and impassioned testimony from supporters, University City High was closed, too.

Dworetzky called the day “draining on everybody.”

Despite his frequent challenges and nine “no” votes, he praised Hite for a good plan with good information.

“I think the superintendent’s team has done a good job, given how much information this process entails,” Dworetzky said.

After the meeting, Chairman Ramos said that none of the commissioners was happy with being put in the position of closing two dozen schools, but that years of inaction by previous district leaders had left the commission with no choice.

“Having 53,000 empty seats has a cost,” Ramos said. 

Late Wednesday, the District revealed a projection that net savings from the recommended closings would total less than $3 million in the first year due to one-time transition costs associated with the closings. That number will be whittled down even further with four schools having been spared.

But Ramos said the cash-strapped District will begin realizing significant savings in 2014-15. 

“The new SRC has tried to take the position that we need to stabilize the District so we can strengthen it going forward, instead of perpetuating just limping along,” Ramos said.

School by school, how the vote went.


This story was reported through a partnership in education coverage between WHYY/NewsWorks and the Notebook.

Comments (238)

Submitted by Rev. Lanier Williams (not verified) on March 8, 2013 4:50 am
Now, we start the school walk outs!!!! We control the schools not the SRC.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 8:28 pm
Amen Rev. Williams!
Submitted by Steve Honeyman (not verified) on March 8, 2013 5:13 am
Dear Ben, Great writing and coverage.
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on March 8, 2013 6:47 am
this is not the time to rant. the fact that we're only talking about closing only 25 schools means we'll be back here again. that people, in the name of community activism, would take such a vocal stance for empty, low performing schools is troubling. those elected officials and clergy who came out in support of this, yet found a better option than their neighborhood school for their children, need to stop it now. the 14,000 children that will be uprooted need our support, not an emotional circus act, to ensure that this process improves their situation. this bold yet difficult step is necessary if we're ever to get a better result from our public education investment. in an environment of transition, there on only two positions to take: you can embrace change and have a say in the future. or you can fight change and be buried in the past.
Submitted by T (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:18 am
Well said. The economic reality of the situation cannot be solved by rants and protests. These are the economic times we live in. It's important to make the transition with the best interests of all those involved and not the special interests of a select few.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:47 am
Really? so it is fair to you that everyone except the SRC and the administrative overhead at PSD HQ should pay the price for years of incompetent management? Economic times are one thing. Incompetent management is another. Raises for the select few at PSD HQ and cuts and closings for everyone else. I guess that is what you mean by the best interests of all involved.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:55 am
The economic reality of the situation is that the public schools of Philadelphia are being intentionally starved by Corbett and his ilk who want to privatize public school for profit. Get your head out of the sand. This is political corruption 101. The mismanagement of the school district was done by those who were imposed upon us by the Mayors and Governors in the last decade. Yet they have millions to pay charter operators, don't they? There is no plan to build new schools for these children which are efficient and located in neighborhoods, are there? The best interests being served here are the "few" who want to turn schools into businesses for profit at the expense of children.
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:02 am
this is not corruption. corruption is when a union props up shill organizations like those who attempted to put on a protest. 200 people in a city of 1.5 million is pretty lame. the list of speakers said it all. where were the parents? the truth is that they want something better than they have now too. this is not about the charters. parents chose them. don't you get that? you want people to believe that a losuy school is ok just because it's in walking distance. that is putting the interests of the few (pft members) above the needs of the many (low-income children).
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:37 am
I think we can agree that bad management is to blame. Whether it be because of political corruption or just human nature: well regardless, where's the solution? Charters have an "in" because there has not been a satisfactory answer to bad management in the SDP. Applying free market principles to school management does not necessarily guarantee good management - just like the free market has not been able to keep health care costs under control. Personally I feel we need a third party entity, much like the Better Business Bureau. Government provided education can be successful (I learned a lot from public schools in CA). Keeping those who would abuse the system under control is the real problem.
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:01 am
i wouldn't disagree about the need for better charter oversight. that won't come from the district. charters will always look at them and say, "physician, heal thyself."
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:31 am
Mrs. Cheng, the solution is in democracy and the principles of democracy. I would be 100% for all schools being "charter schools" if their boards of trustees were elected by the stakeholders of the schools. That is how all of the highly efficient, highly effective suburban schools and schools in Pennsylvania are governed and led. They are governed by elected school boards and residents (stakeholders) of their schools. If we really want to learn how to govern and lead schools effectively and efficiently, just walk across the city borders and see how it is done. In every suburban school district, if the principal is ineffective, they are not retained. If teachers are ineffective, they are not retained long enough to become tenured, if they become tenured and then fail to maintain their skills and zeal, they are properly and fairly evaluated and removed. They all have unions and tenure rights which protect their "due process rights" to be treated fairly and professionally. They are governed and led -- as communities. They are not run as businesses. businesses are run to make money for those who run them. They have customers. Communities have citizens and residents -- they are beneficiaries of a "public trust." The common denominator of effective schools is that they are effective communities. Almost every suburban district has small class sizes in elementary school, and support specialists to serve children as soon as they begin to fall behind. That is what we once had in Philadelphia, too, but they were removed after the state takeover of our schools. We also included all stakeholders in the principal selection process for selecting our principals and AP's in schools. When that was eliminated, the quality of our principals went down because we only had -- Whose friend are we putting in today? How to run schools properly is not rocket science. The reasons for our poor schools are simple -- poor management, poor leadership, and poor governance.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:15 am
Some brief thoughts (as today I have less time to write).Prior to the State takeover then, what were the problems? Suburbia has a far more homogeneous culture than the City, and the districts are generally smaller than ours. What works there might not work here. We look at Finland for excellence in education, and Singapore for excellence in health care delivery, but again here, both are smaller and more homogeneous cultures. So sorry: an example from my far too well worn experience at my neighborhood school - no one agreed with me that the fact that the Home and School was accumulating funds ($8000) and had spent very little for the kids during a 2 year period (I was Secretary) was seriously wrong. No one saw anything wrong with having the kids sell candy bars to each other during the school day, having 5 plus fundraisers during the year, and then not delivering on promised funds to teachers... Is this really happening?..."Toto, we're not in the Suburbs anymore..."
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:53 pm
You are right. It is as if we are stuck in the 17th century. "C'mon Toto! Let's get outta here."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 3, 2013 8:24 am
Chester's board is elected. In the suburban districts, political parties endorse, fund and ultimately elect school board members. Don't be naive. The issue is that education in Philadelphia has been allowed to fail for more than 20 years. Most of the failing schools that were closed were failing well before the advent of charters. Look at top level leadership across the board and you will find they are all in it together.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 3, 2013 9:26 am
In suburban school districts the community is very well aware of the politics that surrounds them and they are very aware of the candidates they vote for and what those candidates stand for. The political parties do not elect the school board, the residents of their communities elect their school boards.The voters in most suburban school districts are very well informed. In turn, those school boards are "closely connected" to both their communities and to everything which happens in their schools. No school governance decisions are made without the knowledge of the school boards and without a vote of the school boards. In Chester, the elected school board was elininated and a board of control ran the district for many years. It was the board of control which mismanaged the district. The board of control then was eliminated and the elected board was re-established for only a short time. The elected board sued the Governor and Secretary of Education in federal court for not adequately funding the school district's regular public schools. The elected school board prevailed and the Governor was Ordered by Federal District Court to fund the regular public schools. Shortly thereafter, and in retaliation for the elected school board's suit, the Governor and Secretary then used the new distressed schools act to take over the district again and impose a type of receiver to run the district and make all decisions for the district unilaterally of anyone else. He created a privatization plan. The elected school board's only power is to collect taxes to hand over to the receiver who intends to privatize the whole school district no matter what. Vahan Guregian is the chief player in Chester and he has been lining his pockets for years and making huge donations to Corbett's campaign fund. It was Jonathan Kozol who first wrote about schoolchildren being "Beneath the Wheel" of politics and obviously they still are. What is happening to schoolchildren in our urban areas now is purely the result of both macro and micro politics. How do you define a failing school? What do you believe are the causes of the low achievement in those schools which you see as failing? What do you believe is the remedy?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 11:38 am
Ms. Cheng, I totally agree with your points about markets. There needs to be balance between free markets and the public sector. The market looks mainly at profit. When operating schools, the center of decision-making should be what is best for children. In order to determine what is best for children, there needs to be an open, democratic process. This goes for board meetings, union contract negotiations, and money from private sources. All of this needs to occur in the open, not behind closed doors. Pastor Pamela Williams spoke about the need for transparency of the District's finances, and she was absolutely right on the money. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:56 pm
You have no idea what you're talking about. Several parents testified at that meeting. Stop spewing your lies.
Submitted by Mom in PSD (not verified) on March 8, 2013 11:30 am
Absolutely right!!!! The charter school plan is the newest swindle and the parents are the lambs to the slaughter. FEW of the best public schools in Philadelphia are charter run. Check the scores. And in Philadelphia, we didn't even start the for-profit charters that Corbett shoved into our neighboring communities. It's the HMO swindle we bought in healthcare all over again...brilliant greed sold as better. But, go ahead, keep your head in the sand parents. Rave about your mediocre charter schools that perform collectively worse than our public schools. Buy their marketing hype that their schools are so wonderful and stand in line praying to get into a school with lower scores than your catchement school. In 10 years when those for-profit charters bought up all the territories, parents can happily pay copays for gym class, books and computer labs. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Submitted by Mom in PSD (not verified) on March 8, 2013 11:46 am
Absolutely right!!!! The charter school plan is the newest swindle and the parents are the lambs to the slaughter. FEW of the best public schools in Philadelphia are charter run. Check the scores. And in Philadelphia, we didn't even start the for-profit charters that Corbett shoved into our neighboring communities. It's the HMO swindle we bought in healthcare all over again...brilliant greed sold as better. But, go ahead, keep your head in the sand parents. Rave about your mediocre charter schools that perform collectively worse than our public schools. Buy their marketing hype that their schools are so wonderful and stand in line praying to get into a school with lower scores than your catchement school. In 10 years when those for-profit charters bought up all the territories, parents can happily pay copays for gym class, books and computer labs. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 6:52 pm
LOL you know the people here are not in Kindergarten nor were we born yesterday. The "economic crisis" has been created dear Reformer. I have to pay city school taxes this year and I wanT assurances that my money is going for public schools and not charter or private schools of any kind. I hope people will join me- NO CITY SCHOOL TAXES ARE TO GO TO CHARTER OR PRIVATE SCHOOLS.
Submitted by Mark (not verified) on March 9, 2013 7:17 am
Ignore it. It must have no life. Troll Disease.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:58 pm
So silly, it's hard to believe you believe it. This is a manufactured crisis. Is this you again, Scotty ????
Submitted by Katie (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:37 am
You act like we cannot support students and neighbors AND protest the closings. We can and will do both. This is about our children and our neighborhoods being dismantled and sold for parts- and their futures are entrusted to corporate America. University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute found that only 6 percent of students displaced by closed schools performed better in their new academic environments. The students being transferred need our support- but they also need us to fight for them- so they do not have to be transferred in the first place!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:51 am
"You act like we cannot support students and neighbors AND protest the closings. We can and will do both" > Katie Yes and protesting the closings IS supporting the students, parents and neighbors.. Philly has always been a city of neighborhoods, that is something we understand that reformers do not. Arlene got that ball rolling when she tried to pit parents and students against teachers. FACT is that many parents like their neighborrhood schools, know the teachers, and don't want the uncertaintly of having to constantly choose different schools and worry if their school (charter or public) is going to close. Do not under any circumstances let anyone rip the heart out of this city.
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:00 am
I know at least as much as you do about philly neighborhoods. but you know what neighborhoods we're talking about specifically. those neighborhoods have become extremely insular. children grow up not knowing anyone outside an eight-block radius. if there's one thing good that can come from these closures it's a new commitment to expand the world for those kids.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 11:09 am
Uh let's see, you need a charter or private school to aid with this? How about children taking trips, being able to join clubs and compete with children in different parts of the city, or enter their artwork into contests and attend receptions? Teachers are "considered "lucky" these days to be paid extracurricular money to start or maintain clubs. When the state and city don't care enough about their students enough to fund schools properly the answer is not more charters. I'm too hip to the kind of thing you are putting across, so the guilt trip doesn't work.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 9:02 pm
if there's one thing good that can come from these closures it's a new commitment to expand the world for those kids. >>Reformer Yeah that's it, new schools, new teachers, fresh start, expand horizons. Sorry no cigar.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:42 pm
These are neither "rants" or "emotional acts." , "there on only two positions to take: you can embrace change and have a say in the future. or you can fight change and be buried in the past. " "Embrace change" is the "rant" of the reformer. Listen- when I embrace change I want it to be for the better and you must STOP using children as a crutch for your argument. Do you think for one minute that kids like all of this uprooting and tension? Heck no they don't and neither do most civic minded Philly residents and public school advocates. You are trying a tactic on people here who know better.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:04 am
65% of this is not about economics or education its about politicians who have to repay their big money donors in favors for campaign contributions. The FBI must investigate the closing of these schools and trace back all the hidden money that has been received from CEOs and founders of these charter schools. The closing of Bok must be argued in U.S. Federal Court by bloggers, parents, school district employees and community activists. City Councilman, Mark Squilla is the council person in that district, parents need to call him - his number is 215-686-3458, fax 215-686-1931. State Senator Larry Farnese's number is 215-952-3121 and in Harrisburg 717-787-5662. Both of these elected officials must do a press conference about the closing of this great school in our city, along with Germantown and University City. If Janie Blackwell cannot save University City, she should be gone. The SRC, the Mayor and his wife are involved in benefiting from these school closings. The parents and taxpayers should be made aware of this. All unions, parents, educators and taxpayers must support a federal injunction of these closings, and ask for an independent court appointed financial accountant to find out where all the money from public schools to charter schools went over the last decade.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:14 am
65% of this is not about economics or education its about politicians who have to repay their big money donors for campaign contributions. The FBI must investigate the closing of these schools and track back all the political money associated from CEOs and founders of these charters schools. The closing of Bok must be argued in U.S. Federal Court by parents, school district employees and community activists. Councilman Mark Squilla is the councilman in the Bok district, his number is 215-686-3458, Fax 215-686-1931, State Senator Larry Farnese 215-952-3121 or 717-787-5662. Both of these elected officials must do a press conference about the closing of this great school. Along with Germantown and University City High School, if councilwoman Janie Blackwell cannot save University HIgh School, she should be gone! The SRC and the Mayor and his wife, and other elected officials are benefiting in some way from these school closings. Parents, unions, and educators must file a federal injunction of the closing of these schools and ask a federal court to appoint a financial accountant to find out how all the public school district money was spent by the school district to charter schools over the past decade.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:26 am
Disturbing reading about "churn" and school closings nationally. http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:55 am
This is what happens to an organization in the second generation after it is unionized. Perpetual financial crises leading to insolvency. Public sector unions only really started in the 1960s. everyone elsevhas been paying the price. Now the host has been bled out. FDR was right that public sector unions make government ineffective and self serving.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:30 am
No, this is what happens when Democracy is taken out of the governance of our public schools, and "corporate America" raids our public schools for profit. The unions are not the axis of evil. They only want basic fairness and rules which govern a civilized society. You see, it is about the civl rights of all Americans.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:08 am
So you are saying that the reason schools are closing is the unions? Am I understanding you correctly? Are you sure it wasn't the years of reckless spending by previous superintendents and SRCs? Are you sure it wasn't because the schools were set up to fail through the constant reduction of resources...like books, supplies, teachers school counselors, school psychologists, nurses, etc? Teachers now have to assume the roles of the missing people in addition to working the classroom. You are clueless like the Fox News followers that spout the same rhetoric. By the way, Philly teachers are some of the lowest paid in the state. You could look it up but I know you wouldn't want the fact to get in the way of your imagination.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 1:17 am
I don't watch Fox News and am actually quite liberal on many things. I support public education spending and effective public services. Im happy to pay relatively higher taxes to live in the city, though not higher than the current levels. I think it is a fact that Public sector Unions in Philadelphia do not deliver effective services. The teachers are less to blame here an the rest of the municipal workforce. We have the highest tax rates of any municipality in the USA. The last time the city raised the wage tax under wilson goode, they actually lost money because it was so easy for high earners to leave the city. All these law firms have to be in the city? Move 5 miles and pay 0% wage tax instead of 5 (where we were heading under Goode. Yes, unions are the problem. Philly is unique in that Afscme gets to set the size of the workforce through work rules. First most states don't even allow public sector unionization. Letting the union determine the size of the labor force is crazy. As a result these other unions in the city have sucked resources away from the schools. Philly complains about Harrisburg as an excuse to not address what is in their control. You are simply wrong about resources declining. Spending on schools over the last 10, 20, 30 years has grown. Spending in Philadelphia doubled since 2000 while inflation was up 30%. Spending has not declined except over the last years due mainly to the stimulus, funds that were always understood to be one time. That is just a fact that you ignore because it doesn't fit in your rhetorical talking points. Rich's talk about democracy is a fig leaf for domination of decision making by special interests. Parents stand no chance in his faux democracy, competing with the powerful unions for the favor of a corrupt entity like city council. But that is his design- sham rhetoric to take power back from parents. The SRC exists because democratically elected politicians drove the district into insolvency And have provided no solution to fix their mismanagement over 14 years since. This is a deliberate effort by the machine to make the state the fall guy with schools, the most popular face of city government. it was designed to protect afscme and patronage corruption that eats up most of the city budget. Noone will protest for these slugs other than maybe family members, Except in Rich's world,Democracy also implies some responsibility of the citizens and their elected officials, responsibility that doesn't really exist in a city that defaulted on its debt less than a year after giving Afscme a sweet raise (1991) And Over 20 years later has refused to deal with its pension problems, other than by making the problem worse with more sweeteners like drop. If you support a strong effective active government then you should not support public sector unions like what we have in philly that make these goals impossible. That is not just a reasonable conclusion from the facts. That is the belief of FDR. It is Not your Fox News conservative caricature.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 9, 2013 6:58 am
So in your world, how shall we choose our President? Our Congressmen? Our Governor? Our General Assembly? Our mayors? Our school boards? You would have the president select the congressmen, the senators, the governors, the mayors? And how would that top guy be chosen? By Walton? By Gates? By Broad? By Murdoch? And what kind of world would that bring us? How would that work out? Compare the amalgamated test scores of districts which are governed democratically with the school districts which have school boards appointed by mayors and governors. What you will find is the achievement level of students and the monetary efficiency of those districts is correlational to the degree of democraticity in the governance of their school districts and schools. The mismanagement of the school district was done by the unelected school boards in Philadelphia, and now the SRC, which have been imposed upon Philadelphia's school system. Philadelphia has never had an elected school board of any kind. Who chose Vallas? Ackerman? Democracy is the law of the land. Lest have you forgotten that we have a US Constitution and a Pennsylvania Constitution? Or does that mean nothing to you in your world? Do you believe, students, parents, teachers, support staff should have no rights? No voice? They are not citizens? My world is one where we all work together in collaboration as a community, as a team, for the best interests of our children, their families and their communities. My world is one where we, as a community, develop and embrace a collective vision, a common mission and a collective commitment to task? Please describe for me how your world would work?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 3:03 pm
For one, we are a federal republic. So we elect representatives. We don't vote on every matter and we don't vote for every office. Secondly, we have constitutions that defends individuals rights. So democracy defined as whatever a majority of voters says is not always correct. What should happen- the mayor should appoint the school board and be responsible to citizens for its results. It doesn't work like that in Philly for a reason. Our locally elected officials (council and mayor) were responsible for managing the district prior to 2000. They failed in every respect. Schools were a violent mess. The district was insolvent and would have defaulted on its debt. Local politicians could have fixed this problem, but that would require cutting some of their precious patronage, or raising taxes to destructive levels. These were the decisions we elect people to make. Philadelphia's politiicans abdicated responsibility. I don't blame them. I remember the SDP back in the 1990's and it was a disgrace. Even as it hurtled towards insolvency the various connected interests (not teachers) were busy looting the place. One of these looters (Johnnie Doc) is now the head of the Democrat party in the city. Go figure, our politicians sat and watched. The state stepped in with the SRC. The state said parents have rights that can not be subordinated by Philadelphia's politiicans, the right to attend a non-district managed school. God bless them. And taxpayers in the rest of the state have rights too in how the SDP manages itself and its finances since they guaranteed the SDP's debt. We, citizens of PHiladelphia, have the right to vote out the governor, or vote in city leadership that demonstrates fiscal responsibility and wants to take back the schools. You DO have rights, many rights. You would just prefer to fight for your rights in a rigged game, like a school board election in an off-year when no one is paying attention where the union can outspend all candidates to buy their stooges onto the board. Then a sham "negotiation" with "management" whose position is entirely attributable to the union's financing. Sure, school board elections will really empower parents and students in Philadelphia. I am sure the union rep/ school board chairman will be very responsive to parents concerns after he remands all charter students to the district managed schools they fled. Maybe parents can collectively raise a couple million to fund their own candidates next election. This is the game. The irony is that this scheme in Philly would have ended in exactly the same place we are now- bankruptcy, state receivorship and state control, but probably several years earlier. The notion that an elected school board is a requirement of democracy is silly. Why don't we elect the police chief? How about the head of L&I? Maybe we should elect traffic court judges? Woops. On second thought, maybe we should appoint traffic court judges. Or even better, and even more democratic, let citizens vote on every teachers contract provision and at the same time they vote on a tax increase or cut to fund that provision. More democracy is always better, right?
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on March 9, 2013 4:10 pm

This is a right wing, fairy tale version of history.   The state took over the school district because then superintendent David Hornbeck challenged the historical under funding of the District and refused to cut spending on classrooms.   As for being "a mess" during this period the District actually made some important changes like introducing full day kindergarten.   For the most part the same problems that have plagued our schools for decades existing then, as they do now.

This poster is terribly perturnbed about the notion that organizations representing workers might take over the schools, disrupting the rule of the coporate lawyers, hedge fund managers and other "civic leaders" who now call the shots.   Ironically, the PFT has never and does not now support an elected school board, although they do favor returning the schools to local control.

What is "silly" is equating electing a school board with a police chief.   Every other city, town and borough in the state elects a school board, a right enshrined in the state's constitution.   Denying our city local control and elementary democratic rights is wrong headed, but then restricting democracy is central to the right wing's agenda.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 12:42 am
Checks and balances are the American way. The state is a check on the city's sometimes malevolent incompetence. We all have rights as PA citizens who happens to live in Philly. You really have to be a revisionist or delusional to think the city was doing an even passable job running the district prior to the SRC. It was worse. And yes, everyone who owns a home should be afraid of the teachers union running the school board. Or can you pay 3-4% of your AVI "market value" in property taxes each year? That is very simply what will happen without checks- there is no level of taxation that will satisfy their needs and wants. Every failure will result in more spending. By the time voters figure out all the self-dealing unfunded long term promises and waste that occured, the district will be billions in debt and city taxes will be 3-4% of property value, sending Philly into a downward spiral. Maybe a real bankruptcy. And of course, eventually the state would take control of Philly's carcass. Again. The funny thing is that organizations representing workers already run this city. That is why we have the highest taxes in the USA and the least productive public sector. The only check on them is that raising Philly's sky high taxes is likely to restart the job & population loss trend of the last 50 years.
Submitted by tom-104 on March 9, 2013 4:07 pm
anon, You sound like a British royalist lecturing American colonists in 1774.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:40 pm
Thanks Anonymous. I was wondering where some of the missing information was. What you state explains quite a lot. Well, the stats support you and speak for themselves. Parents who can, have left the City, some 30,000 taking their some 44,000 children ages 5 to 14 with them in the past 10 years. Interesting that this stat is not at all quoted here in the City, yet easily found online at the Census Bureau's website. The City Catholic schools have also lost significant enrollment, and I doubt it's because of perception of lack of resources or management problems. It's likely only because they are in the City. We are working our way out too. All the "off the mark" rhetoric, also repeated in reply to your post, is disheartening. Bill and Melinda Gates? Privatizers who want more kids (not less) in the City so they can increase their profit? It doesn't explain this exodus. Saying these are to blame is the same as saying you really don't want to solve anything... you are happy the way things were... when there was more money. Families were leaving the whole time there was more money. Obviously that was not why they were leaving.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 1:34 am
Lol. Usurping democracy is only OK when it is a state or federal judge overruling a legislature to order more spending and taxes for schools (ie. Abbott in NJ). Whaddya think the odds are Rich et al. would be wholly supportive of such anti-democratic means to their ends? Just another example of the union using self-righteous rhetoric to justify self-serving positions.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 9:56 pm
"Are you sure it wasn't because the schools were set up to fail through the constant reduction of resources...like books, supplies, teachers school counselors, school psychologists, nurses, etc? ">> In a country with resources like ours this is criminal.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 8:18 pm
What about all of the great schools in the suburbs? Their teachers and principals are unionized. It seems to work just fine for them! How about looking at socioeconomic status and inequitable funding. These are features of many "low-performing" districts whereas unions are a characteristics of poor, middle income, and wealthy school districts alike.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 1:28 am
The other districts don't have other city unions sucking resources out of government like Philly does. Look at the proportion of Phillys budget that goes to non teacher fire police salary and benefits spending. It is off the charts. Problem for teachers is they are the part of the municipal workforce that falls under state receivership. The rest of the city should have back in 92. Pica is a toothless joke compared to the SRC.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 9, 2013 4:53 pm
Where is your data to support your assertions. I will provide links to union contracts in a number of affluent districts to support my statements. Radnor: http://www.rtsd.org/Page/289 Lower Merion: http://www.lmeaonline.org/ Upper Dublin: http://udea.org/ West Chester: http://documents.wcasd.k12.pa.us/dsweb/Get/Document-139101/WCAEA%20Contract_Final_(9.17.09)_1web%20post.pdf
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 3:46 am
Doesn't really address my point. I agree the city did underfund schools- before the SRC, spending was $6k a year. My point was that this was a deliberate choice the city made. The city has/had plenty of resources, but our politicians chose to squander this spending on patronage, bureaucracy and sweet deals for a bloated workforce. The suburbs don't have this problem and they don't have militant unions (other than maybe teachers) like AFSCME that fight not only for benefits, but to maintain the size of the workforce in the face of population decline. AFSCME's motivation is celar i) maximize benefits for their workers and ii) maximize the number of these workers to enhance its political power and the overall pot of union dues. No individual suburb is that big a target. This is just common sense obvious in explaining why Philly government is so much more bloated and ineffective than the suburbs (this is a fact). Somewhat dated Inquirer article (Philadelphia has more employees now than it did before it lost 500k people): http://articles.philly.com/2001-01-17/news/25309902_1_city-payroll-city-... A more updated detailed report by councilman Bill Green from 2010. It does show Philadelphia municipal productivity measured by employees/ pop is basically the worst in the USA. Note Green spins this a little in unions favor to show a 4% decline in the number workers with a 26% decline in population. He doesn't count the growth in many authorities, PGW, Airport (now a prime dumping ground for patronage hacks), Water Authority, etc. that would make the number higher. I would be interested in seeing school district employment, but haven't found anything on that. I suspect its growth is astronomical relative to the people served. Quick history of the wage tax: http://economyleague.org/files/File/reports/Sterling%20Act.pdf Fun fact- labor opposed the original .5% levy and the Republican machine eventually pushed it through in the 30's. A interesting point here is how a unique and controversial aspect of the wage tax is it enabled Philadelphia to suck money in from non-resident commuters in surrounding counties. This was a political power play by Philly on the rest of the state, helped by the fact that NJ residents didn't get a vote. Non-residents fought this for decades, unsuccessfully. So from the beginning the city had a huge funding advantage over the suburbs. My interpretation notes that after public sector unionization in the 1960's, the tax triples in the next 15 years. The terrible Rizzo regime in the 1970's gave public unions literally everything they wanted and more. This is when most jobs were lost and the seeds were sown for insolvency in the 90's. We are still stuck with Rizzo's unfunded pension debts 40 years later. Or maybe that is all just coincidental correlation... I also don't get the comparison of lower merion & Philadelphia. Lower merion is much wealthier, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the USA (helped by Philadelphia's high wage tax). Their residents choose to spend more on schools. That should be a good thing. The assumption that Philly has some right to spend at the highest rate in the country just because one of their wealthy neighbors does makes no sense.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on March 10, 2013 8:41 am
Again, thank you for this information. If Philadelphia wants a real solution, they need much more honesty. The use of Lower Merion as an example of inequitable funding, is misleading. The State, per 2010/11 FY stats, gives Philadelphia more than twice per child what it gives Lower Merion. Because of this, if you use a straight percentage to calculate cuts, you will inevitably end up with a greater dollar amount per child wherever there was greater per child funding. This would explain why the City did not sue the State on this. There was really not the grounds. The suspicion of nonprofits also works for the status quo and against the welfare of the kids. The important items in the State's commissioned Costing Out study are what are identified as necessary services, not necessarily the price tags/dollar amounts. Philadelphia, through nonprofits, is the recipient of far more generosity than Lower Merion. If it had the will, resolve (and better integrity) of Cincinnati, there would be better use of this largesse.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 10:05 am
I'm not as up on the subject as you are but given the political climate in this country upping your union workforce and protecting the benefits of your workers is not a bad thing. One of the main focuses is to decimate unions in general so they won't spend heavily on poltiical races.IOW Citizens United is okay for corprorations but not for unions- screw that. Good God, look at the decline in public sector jobs, is that okay with you?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 10:34 am
I'm not as up on the subject as you are but given the political climate in this country upping your union workforce and protecting the benefits of your workers is not a bad thing. One of the main focuses is to decimate unions in general so they won't spend heavily on poltiical races.IOW Citizens United is okay for corprorations but not for unions- screw that. Good God, look at the decline in public sector jobs, is that okay with you
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 1:15 pm
I am more liberal at the state or federal level. That is where spending, fiscal stimulus and redistribution needs to happen. We should have more of it. We should have more state aid to schools. But policies that make sense at the state or federal level simply don't work at the municipal level. They destroy the city. They are unsustainable. I love the city and want it to be viable. The problem with the unions here is they are the oppressors. When AFSCME trash collectors first struck in philly in 1932, I think justice was on their side. The pendulum swung the otherway sometime in the 1970's and now Philadelphia is at the opposite extreme. Unions run the show here. And they don't run it well. We have $5 billion in pension debt for city workers, on top of the $4 billion already in the fund. That is over $20k for every private sector wage earner in the city. And still they want more. God forbid they pay any wage tax on their pension income like all us other schmucks. They refuse to increase productivity for their wage increase. That is why we have more employees with 500k fewer people. The city government is run as a political machine. It takes $10 from 10 people and gives $100 to one city worker who kicks back $5 and works for the machine. It hopes to confuse the other 9 people with propaganda, or buy their loyalty with some giveaways (free natural gas anyone?). Repeat that process thousands of times over decades and you get where we are. Even good redistributionist policies don't work AT THE CITY LEVEL because it is too easy for taxpayers and employers to leave Philly. Just drive 5 miles. It is more difficult for them to leave PA (and our neighbors aren't any better). But it is damn near impossible for them to them to leave the US, and even then the IRS will come after you. Spending, stimulus and redistribution need to occur at the federal level. I understand negotiating for pay & benefits, but how can you run a city where the union negotiates how many people are hired and forbids transferring employees. What sort of culture do you get where the employees (collective judgement) actively scorn productivity? It is not public service. I know that.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:26 am
Rich M is correct, but let me add here as I have elsewhere, this is a NATIONAL MOVEMENT to dismantle public education in favor of privatizers and charter organizaton mangagers.. Make no mistake this is the work of: the Broad Foundation, ALEC, (who brought us Stand Your Ground legisation) Michelle Rhee. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Walton Family (Walmart) among many others. To us this is Philadelphia where many of us grew up and attended good neighborhood schools and it being decimated by those who are out for monetary profit AND union busting be they Republicans or Democrats. Where is Barack Obama for whom most of us voted, Arne Duncan, MIchael Nutter? Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles are target cities,and the Broad Foundation has a plan and list of how many school closings they want to see and where- it's an 83 page report..
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 5:32 pm
Can you provide a lint to this 83 page Broad Foundation report?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 6:00 pm
I don't have it anymore, it's on one of the other stories in the Notebook.
Submitted by tom-104 on March 8, 2013 9:06 pm
Yes Education Grad, that is the link. You may also find this of interest: http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 10:36 pm
That's where I found the link, Tom!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:19 pm
tom-104 has it! he has puzzled so much of this (what we see these last years at SRC meetings) out with referrals to that doc. Major Tom are you there??
Submitted by Rob (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:05 pm
I've read the document and it is crazy how some of the talking points are lifted ver batem. It is a complete 'how to' on how to shut down schools and then sell them to charter schools. I laugh now when I hear Hite speak because I saw exactly where he got his lines from
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:47 pm
laugh? surely you jest
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:24 pm
Hw laughs cuz HIte has no ideas of his own, he's a puppet, a middleman for the broader national closure process.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 1:28 am
Obama is also responsible to the parents of 45k kids in Philly who have chosen charters. Can't fault the man for counting votes properly and doing the right thing for kids at the same time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 11:10 am
Obama should be supporting public education and he's not. I can fault him for securing our votes and turning his back on us, but Obama has always been a charter advocate. It's' one area in which I believe he is an elitist. His Sec'y of Edcuation is a reformer for goodness sake.
Submitted by brownbear (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:24 am
Notice the glaring absence of Jerry Jordan or any other PFT official among those arrested last night with AFT president Randi Weingarten. Like his predecessor and mentor, Ted Kirsch, Mr. Jordan has yet to engage in a single act of civil disobedience or personal sacrifice on behalf of the PFT membership.
Submitted by siles mcgee (not verified) on March 8, 2013 4:07 pm
JERRY JORDEN,IS A LAUGHABLE UNION LEADER.IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME IF HE WAS ON THE S.R.C. PAYROLL....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:05 am
It's not really "incompetent manangement" it's what Dr. Hite was brought here to finish off. .The state took over our District in 2001 and many of us thought it'd be temporary.We have not been in charge of our own District since that time, and every superinitendent who was okayed for this job has been an outsider.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:51 am
Jordan didn't have to be arrested that's what Randi Weingarten was there for to make a broader point. However the PFT is not fighting for teachers the way they used to even as of a few years ago.There have been are too many terminations lately leading to some speculation.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 5:06 pm
What kind of terminations? If these terminations are of incompetent, ineffective teachers, then the terminations are good. Are the terminations of teachers who have violated the Standards of Conduct for teachers? Are these terminations of teachers whose certifications have lapsed? Or are these, good, competent teachers who spoke up about working conditions? What are the reasons for the terminations, and have teachers had due process, those are the important questions? EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 6:53 pm
No EGS they are not incompetant teachers, there are such things in the real world called trumped up charges and harassment. Names and cases are not for your perusal- sorry.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 7:31 am
Agreed!!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:42 pm
"What kind of terminations? If these terminations are of incompetent, ineffective teachers, then the terminations are good. Are the terminations of teachers who have violated the Standards of Conduct for teachers? Are these terminations of teachers whose certifications have lapsed?>> Are you now judge, jury,and executioner? It's time to grow up and realize what's going on.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 7:58 am
EGS always seems to have a lot of opinions......I and wondering about his/ her experience......I thought I read in one of these threads that he or she was relatively new to the field....when I was just starting out I had sense enough to watch and gain some experience before I started twirling my opinions all around the place....the research and the media can always skew things..... I am a firm believer in experience being the best teacher.....sometimes you have to humble yourself.....jeez....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:03 pm
Opinions, fancy verbiage for a newbie, and lots of questions. Also wants people to give examples of things so he can "better understand" , I smell a rat.
Submitted by JUDITH ROBINSON (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:02 am
PENNSYLVANIA laws guides education-African Americans have had a problem with this system since -start... Billions of $$$ are being spent on (2MILLION)Roofing of buildings-the financing is coming from bonds funding.Since 1998 the "State Intercept law" would intercept the funds proposed for a school system ,if the debt service to bondholders was every in question... This and other financing DEALS are what has us in this mess!! The public school system is now being raided and had been for decades!! Whether D or R are in office. Where are the $$$ going ? If not for support of Teachers, no education of our youth-before school ,after school,etc.. We need to follow the $$$ and STOP the flow-NOW !!!   Now is the time to question every TAX $$$ going to this system...Especially for those of us paying ,but not directly using the system...Are we ready to Stop the flow? We can start with the coming election...Historically each party gets 8 years to play, are we upset enough to Stop the cycle ? Otherwise- keep paying and lamenting...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:10 am
Why wasn't Simms required to recuse herself from the Pierce vote?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:55 am
I thought the same thing.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 8:22 pm
I thought the same thing. It's a definite conflict of interest!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 8:57 am
Rich Miglore, where are you on this?
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:00 am
All "public officials," and SRC members are public officials, have a "legal duty" to recuse themselves from voting on any matter which may be a conflict of interest or may give the "appearance of impropriety." Ironically, I just submitted a legal brief to Commonwealth Court this past week laying out the law on conflict of interest of public officials in a decision-making capacity. However, in defense of Ms. Williams, she is probably unaware of those issues and has not been advised properly yet. I believe she is very well intentioned and is a learner in all of this, just like we all are. My advice is always, when in doubt about whether an issue is a conflict, always recuse yourself. The best thing is that Pierce is staying open: "Hoooray for Ms. Williams for giving the correct vote!!! To be honest, I would have voted to Keep Pierce open, too, even if I had a conflict of interest. I would have done it with a sparkle in my eye knowing that I did the right thing for children.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:34 am
No, not cool Rich and I'm surprised you would condone this. Thursday wasn't her first SRC voting meeting, the district's attorney is always sitting right there and her conflict was public knowledge having been reported widely in the media. If the SRC members and the district attorneys let this conflict slide, how can we trust them to act honorably when confronted with something actually sinister?
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:33 am
You are right. Trust formation is the most important element of effective leadership. I apologize for my indiscretion, but you know I do not condone voting on an issue where an SRC member would have a conflict of interest. But to error is human and we are all fallible. The ethical and moral compass of the School District is a serious issue which has festered over the last few years. The Markman Ethics Report is a prime example. I apologize that my joy of seeing Pierce kept open, led me to inject a bit of humor into a tense issue.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:43 am
I'm dumbfounded that she's even on the SRC. People are busy talking about qualified teachers and measuring them by student success yet we have a former bus matron deciding our fates? We went from Heidi Ramirez to Cary (who didn't believe in discipline) to Sylvia Simms? Holy toledo!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:48 am
Why are there Charters opening up and public schools closing?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 2:24 pm
There have not been any new charter schools opened in Philadelphia since 2009 (I believe). There have been a) an expansion of existing charter schools, and b) former district schools given to charter networks as part of the Renaissance initiative. These have taken place because the governor, the mayor, and the superintendents have promoted the 'portfolio model'. And, yes, some students and parents have left for charter schools in spite of their having similar educational outcomes to district schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 2:12 pm
There is a Charter school that is set to open next year at the old catholic school Stella Maris.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on March 8, 2013 4:53 pm
Mastery is opening a new charter - a K-8 school near Mastery Thomas. Performing Arts Charter is opening a 9-12 school (for 1400 students) in South Philly. Current charters are being allowed to increase enrollment - thanks to Mr. Darden and the SRC - and others are opening new schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 6:05 pm
Mastery in NW Philly now wants to expand by knocking 6th grade out from JB Kelly which is something that MUST to be fought.. Kelly is a neighborhood K-6, there is no need to do this except to expand Mastery and downsize another public school ENOUGH!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 6:21 pm
Mastery in NW Philly now wants to expand by knocking 6th grade out from JB Kelly which is something that MUST to be fought.. Kelly is a neighborhood K-6, there is no need to do this except to expand Mastery and downsize another public school ENOUGH!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:19 pm
Isn't Sandra dungee Glenn former SRC member a board member of Mastery Charter Schools. Very interesting! !
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 9:01 pm
Is there an article about this? Since when should Mastery or any other private interest have a say in changing the grade configuration of a school? This is predatory.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:49 pm
Sorry I made a mistake and realized it before I hit send. The SRC wants the change but it benefits Mastery by adding a 6th grade. Is there a reson for Mastery to have a 6th grade at the expense of another well established school and faculty? Germantown needs Kelly, you cannot screw with a whole neighborhood.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 9:24 pm
Is there an article about this? Since when should Mastery or any other private interest have a say in changing the grade configuration of a school? This is predatory.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:55 pm
Charters ARE predatory. I was dumbstruck listening to the SRC panel talking last night about would ______ charter fit into ______ closed school. WE are the ones concerned about the kids and their stability, not the reformers who are profit oriented. There are many ways to make a difficult school into a better one, and financial neglect and picking off grades is not one of them. I disagree with the term "student centered," a school does better when there is teacher collaboration in place and good morale that is not undone by a principals.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 9:11 pm
What charter school will open at Stella Maris? Not only have charters hurt traditional public schools, but charters have been draining the enrollments of many Catholic schools. Many of the students who are now attending charter schools were never before in publicly-funded schools, they were in private schools, most of them parochial schools. The lack of credibility of the Archdiocese hasn't helped the situation either, but the proliferation has devastated Catholic schools.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 9, 2013 3:03 pm
Money, Money and Money. And not Don Money who played for the Phillies a thousand years ago either.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:14 am
That's the queston, if there is NO money why are charters replacing public schools?. The STRUCTURE allows charter schools to be public which IMO should not be, I heard talk last night about can so and so charter fit into ________ school that is being closed.? How blatant can they BE? I have to pay close to $300 in Phila school taxes this year - I do not want to pay for charter schools!!
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 9, 2013 3:11 pm
My friend, they have passed "blatant" long ago. Now, there approaching, "tough...." as they snicker and move on. Go to any red light district and you'll see those kind of slaps 24/7. That's exactly how the SRC and Mutter, regard the people of Phila.
Submitted by Katie (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:21 am
I am so utterly disheartened. The SRC had years to get a plan together for the failing Philadelphia public school system. Instead of doing site visits to the schools and soliciting ideas from the communities, they hired the Boston Consulting Group for a million dollars in a cover-your-own-ass maneuver. BCG did not do site visits. They did not speak with the communities. They relied on 'expertise' and 'numbers' to feed public officials a plan that the public officials found palatable and could in turn make valid with the 'expertise' and 'numbers' provided by BCG. Communites had no say in these top-down mechanisms. In the span of a few short months (1? 2?) the SCR released this atrocious plan and held mock hearings. Communities scrambled to come to last minute meetings which changed dates constantly- and form plans of their own in response to the BCG plan and in response to the failing public school system. The respectful dialog was carried out entirely on the SRC's terms. In the end- the resulting plan is going to be executed on the SRC's terms... not on the communities' terms. If anyone bothered to listen- none of these communities want their neighborhood school closed. They have devoted time, energy, money, law suits to fighting the SRC and the powers-that-be who sanctioned this group. Neighborhoods truly have banned together to try and fight a system of oppression- it is clear as day. It is frustrating to be so blatantly disrespected by our 'elected' public officials. Where is Mayor Nutter? (pretending he has nothing to do with this?). Where is President Obama (ignoring that most major US cities are selling their public school systems for parts?) Where is Corbett (not answering to his constituents?) If the community is not heard- and peaceful protests are in vain- what options do we have to fight a system that most of us do not feel we even put in place to begin with. During the hearings, the SRC implored that we be respectful in our discourse while they politely disrespected our neighborhoods and dis-invested in the future of our youth. We were allowed to voice our opinions- but they did not even do parents, teachers, or community leaders the honor of responding to their pleas and concerns as they were individually presented. If only one-third of the charter schools are better than our neighborhood schools, two-thirds of them are worse. Turning public education over to charters is not an option. If property values are tied to good neighborhood school catchments- then wouldn't a vast system of popular public schools be an investment strategy for the city? If well-educated youth turn into well-educated and prosperous adults for our communities- then wouldn't the public schools system be the top priority of any official? We need to invest in our communities... and the communities are willing to work together to make good on these investments. We have screamed it at the top of our lungs We have spent nights and weekends and work days coming together to figure out alternatives while the ground underneath our feet shifted and lurched with SRC rumors about closings and changed hearing dates, and cancelled meetings. What are we supposed to do now that we are being so arrogantly ignored?????
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:19 am
Having read this comment debate I am not sure the debate makes any much sense to me. What is clear are two things: 1. The system does not have enough money. The issue that everyone is missing is that the district is close to having a cash flow problem and may not make it through the summer. The school closing do not help in cost savings to solve that problem. The district took out a 300 million loan just to make payroll this year and we will be paying that back for the next 20 years at 20 mill a year. No matter what side of the argument you are on the resources are not there to do anything...create thriving community schools or charterize the whole system. The District is broke and solving that issue is the only one that matters. That means better management on the SDP's part and investment by the state and city. These are political problems and not ones about actual school reform. Will the political class in the city and Harrisburg allow the district to be managed properly? That means consistant investment in a poor urban district, it means closing charter schools that are vanity projects or patronage cease pools, it means preparing and organizing neighborhoods to engage in their schools in ways that don't just feel right but produce results. We have to create schools that middle class families will put their kids alongside poor kids we have to understand what that tipping point is and how to balance it our without gentrifying the school. It will mean protesting on a massive scale underinvestment in our schools and holding the political class accountable for failure (state, and city). It means the union will have to let go of unpopular parts of their contract (tenure, First in First out, location choice,etc.). It means to allow them to do that we have to pay teachers more. 2. Neither side of this debate really has good answers. It is clear that there are few actual community schools that are working well. It is also true that the charters don't have great answers. Many of them are not better then the public schools and that few that are good are not really good enough...they have high college drop-out rates they know how to get kids to grade level but we know those standards are not that high. They themselves are not fiscally sustainable they need both state money and private philanthropy that will be hard to create on a massive scale. 10 years and millions of dollars and we have only 3-5 good charter operators. That record does not bode well. Austerity is better then high spending superintendents of yesteryear? Austerity will leave the district with larger mediocre and some poor performing schools - no real resources to put into them to make them better, a demoralized and poorer teaching staff, a still ungovernable charter school system, a politically polarized city around school reform (what a mistake the BCG report rollout was), and no real case to secure additional funds from Harrisburg. While getting people engaged in a protes is nice our big democracy push is a few hundred people at an SRC meeting about school closing (which is a red harring)? The "movement" to stop the "corporate reformers" seems like a cliched movie. Many reformers are wrong but I haven't heard a real alternative,,,from "the movement" should we keep poor performing schools open? Protect a union that does not represent it members well and let the school system spin to failure over a long period of time? No! We need real organizations that can moblize poor neighborhoods to rally people around their schools and hold people who work their accountable and have real ownership of performance. Please tell someone has better ideas and solutions that what has been presented...
Submitted by Katie (not verified) on March 8, 2013 11:30 am
I like your analysis- let's make a better plan... here are the ideas your presented, and I will add to them- and so should everyone else: 1. close charter schools that perform worse that the median public school and reallocate that funding to public schools. 2. community organizations should for volunteer action plans around each of their schools (see West Philly Coalition of Neighborhood Schools, Garden Court, and Friends of Pepper Middle School for good examples). 3. Ensure that schools have spots to include no less than 25% of the students from economically disadvantaged households (and number proven not to impact performance for the other 75% of the students). 4. Protest on a massive scale the underinvestment in our schools and hold the political class accountable for failure (state and city)- do not re-elect officials that remain silent or do not help in this effort. 5. Teachers unions will need to abandon unpopular parts of their contract (tenure, First in First out, location choice,etc.). 6. To compensate, teachers will need more pay. Perhaps tie teacher salaries to politician salaries- so that they are paid the same. Added ideas: 7. Change regulations around charter schools so that they cannot over-enroll beyond their caps and so that they cannot get pay outs first and leave the public schools with less. 8. Go beyond community engagement and form public-private partnerships with public schools- like Penn Alexander. 9. Keep, endow and expand programs of proven success like headstart. 10. Create interim school survival plans: schools can rent out gyms to sports teams in after hours, host community meetings in auditoriums, offer space for after-school programs in music, theater, etc. Rent out classroom space as office space if under-enrolled. 11. Reallocate funding from lower-priority projects, such as the expansion of the Pennsylvania prison system. 12. Fix the property tax collection system, tax delinquency penalty collection system, and sheriff sale office to provide a transparent process for moving tax delinquent properties to sheriff sale for market value sale and recuperation of lost city funding. Philly currently has $515 million owed in delinquent property taxes alone. 13. Expand the Philly 311 App to be used to enforce 'broken window' penalties - and direct collected fees from these neighborhood beautification efforts to public schools. 14. Close the Corporate Tax Loophole. Pennsylvania will spend $2.4 billion next year on business tax breaks, a figure that has tripled in the last 10 years. Because of the so-called Delaware loophole, 70 percent of corporations that do business in Pennsylvania pay no corporate income taxes at all, costing the state an estimated $500 million a year. Halting the phasing out of the capital stock and franchise tax could bring in an estimated $275 million a year. 15. Raise taxes on items with a negative impact: alcohol, cigarettes, natural gas drilling, etc- and earmark this funding specifically to public schools. 16. Conduct planning surveys to assess the potential property tax gains for every dollar of investment in public school rehabilitation, parsing this study based on which types of school reform were employed. This will help prioritize and guide school investment in a manner that feeds city coffers. 17. Streamline the volunteer costs and background check process to enable more community members to engage in their local school. The federal and state background check procedure currently costs over $50 and requires three forms. State and federal officials should put their heads together to come up with a simple, free, online system to ensure that parents and community members are screened and can easily jump in and roll up their sleeves. 18. Crowdsource funding for schools. Apply for project-based funding through the community through crowd-sourcing funds. There are a variety of online crowd-source sites for this purpose: http://www.donorschoose.org/ http://www.adoptaclassroom.org/
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 6:36 pm
Excuse me do you understand what happens when you get rid of seniority? Lawlessness, favoritism, and nepotism. .In your master plan don't be so quick to tell us what to give up . It's akin to saying organize to the hilt but give up social security to get everybody to the table.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 7:35 am
There's lawlessness, favoritism and nepotism in the sdop anyway......taking away Seniority will just broaden its reach.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 9, 2013 8:54 am
All teachers should have tenure rights once they show that they are proficient teachers. It should be granted to all charter school teachers, too. It should also be granted to all teachers in schools operated by charter operators." The state laws which protect teachers from the wrongdoing of their employer is tenure and the "just cause" provisions in collective bargaining agreements. It is a myth that tenure protects bad teachers -- it only protects good teachers who do their jobs to the reasonable standards of the profession. Tenure protects "freedom of thought."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:27 am
In the great rush to bash teachers "tenure" has been framed as something it's not. I beleve that tenure is achieved after a certain number of years with certain qualifications having nothing to do with job security. However as I said there are teachers who are being terminated ostensibly for "just cause" when in fact they have been harrassed, and been victims of unscrupulous administrators. They get due process up to a point, the union does a CYA move by going through the motions, and the teacher is terminated. I do not know why this is happening or if there is some type of collusion, perhaps someone else does.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 9, 2013 5:04 pm
Can you go into more detail about what exactly you mean by harassment or unscrupulous administrators? I ask this out of curiosity. I understand there may be confidentiality in these matters, but can you at least give a representative example?
Submitted by Anon 452 (not verified) on March 9, 2013 8:37 pm
I can give you an example of a very common situation that would be rampant without union protection. Recently, in the middle school grades at my school, we received a child who was difficult, had been in juvenile detention, and had an IEP that had not really been honored at the previous school. As we got to know this student, we realized she/he needed a re-evaluation to determine what she/he needed educationally. The student was difficult, but had many strengths. For many reasons the principal decided she wanted this student out! The principal said as much to me (the regular ed teacher), the special ed teacher, and the school psychologist. The three of us DID NOT agree that trying to put this student out was in his/her best interest. There was really nowhere else for her/him to go. When the psychologist interviewed me, I was able (without fear of losing my job) to state what I --as the teacher who spent the most time with this student--thought was best for this child. This was the opposite of what the principal had wanted me to say. I would like to think I would always do what was best for a student, but if I always had to be afraid that advocating for students might get me on the principal's "hit list", who knows. Many people do not realize that union protections are good for students and families as well as for teachers. Believe me, some (maybe many) principals would be vindictive and petty if they did not have to abide by rules the union sets out--they would direct teachers and other staff to do things that were not always right. This is just one story, there are many more in schools all over the city.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 9, 2013 8:29 pm
Thank you for the example. I student taught at a District school with a great principal who was knowledgeable of special education issues and took a great deal of input from the school's special ed liaison, regular ed, and special ed matters. At the Mastery school where I spent time, admins and teachers worked with the most difficult students and worked together to develop interventions to help students who did not respond to the school-wide behavior management system. Teachers at both of these schools were able to do the right thing for kids. As I gain more experience, I will probably run into principals who get in the way of teachers doing the right thing. In the mean time, your example helps me gain a better understanding. It sounds like your principal may have been in violation of IDEIA. A public school cannot kick out a student, especially a special ed student, without cause or a manifestation determination hearing. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:15 pm
Know something EGS? my bad vibe antennae are coming out : " As I gain more experience, I will probably run into principals who get in the way of teachers doing the right thing. In the mean time, your example helps me gain a better understanding. It sounds like your principal may have been in violation of IDEIA. A public school cannot kick out a student, especially a special ed student, without cause" Get in the way of teachers doing the right thing? I suggest you look up harrassment, unless of course you already know all this. People w/o experience don't say things like "without cause or a manifestation determination hearing." The innocent act is wearing on me.
Submitted by Anon 452 (not verified) on March 9, 2013 11:20 pm
My principal is actually not a bad sort usually. For some reason, that particular student had pushed all his/her buttons. I was just happy I was able to advocate for the student with no fear of reprisal-- and for that I thank my union!
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 9, 2013 5:37 pm
Rich, Who protects or enforces tenure rights? The courts? Unions? How is tenure in state law related to just cause provisions in collective bargaining agreements? Do the tenure law and collective bargaining agreements go hand in hand? EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:08 pm
I have a great idea, you seem to have lot of time on your hands you could look it up. Something is telling me you don't need to be spoon fed.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 11, 2013 12:20 pm
I don't have a legal background. Yes, I have read parts of the PFT contract and the school code, but I don't understand how various contracts, statutes, and laws work together. Also, the language in parts of the School Code and the PFT contract is hard to read because there is so much legal jargon.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 11, 2013 12:52 pm
Well you might find it on E How ;
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 1:03 pm
You ask an excellent question. It would take me a really long comment to answer your question fully and completely, and you deserve a full answer to that question. So does everyone else who teaches in Philadelphia, is thinking about teaching in Philadelphia, or is a CASA administrator. At some point in time, I will write a full article explaing the answer to your questions, the history of tenure under the law, and how those rights are being circumvented by the School District of Philadelphia and eroded as much as possible by those in power. But everyone better realize that your rights are under assault and you had better get together and stick together or you will be working for less money with no rights at all. What is happening will not only destroy the profession of teaching, but it will destroy public education itself. As always, the children and the people of Philadelphia will be the ones who will be deprived in the end. Tenure rights are created by state law. In Pennsylvania, tenure rights are "statutory rights" reenacted within the Pennsylvania Public School Code of 1949. They apply to every regular public school teacher, principal and assistant principal in Pennsylvania. Charter school teachers are excluded under the Charter School Law. Teachers in Pennsylvania are "professional employees" under the law. Tenure rights are enforceable pursuant to the adminsitrative procedures set out in the School Code and those rights inure to teachers as individuals and are not dependent on collective bargaining agreements or thier unions. Or, they can be enforced through the grievance arbitration procedures of CASA or the PFT. There is an "election of remedy" clause in the PFT contract and an "election of remedy" provision in the School Code. You may proceed one way or the other, but not both. The administrative procedures include the right to a hearing before the school board (SRC), an appeal to the Secretary of Education, and an appeal to Commonwealth Court, and maybe the Supreme Court of PA if permission is granted. Tenure rights and the administrative procedures were created long before public employees were granted collective bargaining rights. Once collective bargaining rights were created, CASA and the PFT gained the right to enforce tenure through "contractual provsions" which include "grievance arbitration" which is decided by a neutral arbitrator. PFT and CASA regularly attempt to enforce tenure rights through the internal "due process" procedures which are "contractual due process rights." They also enforce "just cause" contractual provisions through the internal procedures which include 1st and 2nd level conferences with prinipals and/or regional superintendents. If a teacher's or administrator's "due process rights" are violated, they can also proceed through Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act for deprivation of constitutional rights pursuant to the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment contains a "due process clause" which is applicable to the states. It states that "life, liberty or property" can not be taken from any citzen without "due process of law." Teachers and administrators have "property rights" to continued employment through their collective bargaining agreements, And through their statutory tenure rights under state law. Federal law recognizes that all citzens have a "liberty interest" in their reputation which is "protected" by the 14th Amendment.You have a constitutional right as a public employee to a "name clearing hearing." Those rights can not legally be taken from any citizen without "due process of law." Did that simplify the situation for you? (Chuckle chuckle.) Actually I find my rebirth as a civil rights attorney to be a wonderful learning experience and quite fascinating. You should read up on the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act. We are living in a crucial era of American history and all of our rights are at issue. I advise everyone to go see Lincoln.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 11, 2013 12:35 pm
Rich, Thank you for the explanation. You have definitely clarified the situation for me. I don't have a background in the law so connecting the dots among various legal issues such as "due process of law" and "statutory rights" such as tenure can be confusing, especially given the legal jargon involved. EGS
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 11, 2013 1:17 pm
You are welcome. Also, you do not have to be apologetic for your questions and attempts to understand how "all of this" plays out and how legal rights are enforced. We should all try to understand how our legal system works and what our rights are. I was a teacher for 20 years, went to law school, was a PFT Building Rep, a PFT Convention Delegate, and a CASA administrator. During all those years, I had no idea how the tenure laws really worked and all of the available remedies under the law for violation of tenure rights. From what I read and hear said, there are very few if any teachers and CASA members who fully understand their rights under the tenure laws. The only reason I know so much about it is that before I left the district I ran into a bit of adversity because of my book, "Whose School is It? the Democratic Imperative for Our Schools," and my open advocacy for democratic practices within the School District. I also advocated for a change of "the administrative culture" of the district. Now, teacher tenure actions are part of my law practice. I have written 9 legal briefs on teacher tenure law in the last 3 years. In one, I had to explain the PA tenure law to a Federal Judge in a due process violation federal law suit. It took up fifteen pages and just touched the surface. The late president of CASA, the beloved Dr. Mike Lerner, who was a wonderful dedicated labor leader and principal, said to me, "Rich you understand all this stuff, I don't. Just tell me what you want me to do and I will do it." Dr. Lerner was a Great leader and an outstanding principal. It is getting to know people like him which makes "Our Profession" so wonderful. That is why I hate to see it being destroyed by people with nothing but their self interests in mind.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:43 pm
I am known for spotting trolls or people in disguse, and your post bears it out. Tip: you can't sound erudite in one paragraph and get all sloppy in others. Red harring? lmao! "Neither side of this debate really has good answers " Sure we do. Aww a cash flow problem, how did that come about may I ask? it's a public relations stunt to fool people into thinking that District schools are not sustainable. Take that to the bank. "Empty seats," "poorly performing teachers," "unions are not relevant anymore." It's all by design.
Submitted by Rev. Lanier Williams (not verified) on March 8, 2013 11:13 am
Students are starting to plan mass walk outs. Soon the PFT will join.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:20 am
Good, civics is action. I was prsent when Dr. King gave his famous speech and I'm sure he'd approve, He fully funderstood the evils of privatization.
Submitted by Lilian (not verified) on March 8, 2013 3:38 pm
What seems to be missing on some folks is the historical power of collective, grassroots movements -- not to mention rank-and-file educators leading the fight for better..well, everything. It is time to take some serious lessons from: the victorious struggle in Chicago (CORE), what teachers are doing in New York City (MORE), what students have accomplished in Quebec...and what ordinary people have achieved in Tunisia and Egypt, and their ongoing struggle for real change. Our struggle is the same -- the struggle for democracy -- the students, educators, community members must demand a say. But we need to be organized...because 'they' are organized. Finally, let us heed the brilliant words of Brother Frederick Douglass: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 6:36 pm
Diane Ravich's new group. Please read. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joy-resmovits/diane-ravitch-launches-ne_b_...
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:48 pm
Lilian---I love it. Power concedes nothing is right out of the Machiavellian handbook which deals with power against power. Yes, we need to organize and DEMAND, not ask or play mouse games. The power of money is against us and our option is the power of numbers. This will only continue if we don't stop it.
Submitted by Katie (not verified) on March 8, 2013 4:03 pm
If you want a rally- give the date, and i'll show up. If you want guerrilla graffiti artists to protest the closings with art of resistance and support to the disowned students of the closed schools- it can be arranged. If you want to storm city hall or the council- I'm in.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 8, 2013 7:04 pm
Katie--I've been saying for 3 years that only assertive action will stop these folks. Massive, organized resistance is needed, not praying or playing mouse, not singing or small spiritual gatherings. Call us thugs but force is needed, not conversation as in compromise. These folks just snicker at that and keep going.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 3:26 pm
I''m not showing up to support getting rid of teachers' collective bargaining rights--if that is what you mean by getting rid of "unpopular" parts of their contracts ( unpopular with whom?). Are you aware that part of Michelle Rhee's mission is to eliminate the "last in, first out" provision? Lisa Haver
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 10:24 am
Agreed LIsa, and Rhee is only one player in this larger game. Does anyone stop to think wha"first in last out really means?" It means tha prinipals should not be deciding on who stays or goes depending on their own and dislikes of a person..It means the District cannot lay off a person having 25 years in the system say in favor of someone with one year who runs errands for them or worships at their feet. If I entered the system in September 1985, and you entered October 1985, I have higher seniority. I can hear it now- but what i fh youyng teacher is "better and more dedicated"? That is a value judgement- subjective and w have to have rules. Whe we go down to choose a school I am ahead of you on the seniority list, but you are ahead of people who came after you. There is enough turmoil in this Distrct without adding more.
Submitted by concerned citizen (not verified) on March 8, 2013 4:27 pm
Broken-Promise Academies: University City High School, Germantown High School, Vaux High School. School Reform Commission, how can we trust the words that come out of your mouths, when "Promise "means "Betrayal," "School Safety" means "Danger," "Community Involvement" means "Disdain for Ordinary People."
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 4:28 pm
Diane Ravitch has created an organization called the Network for Public Education. See http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/. A goal of her organization is to counter the agenda of organizations like Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst. One problem with holding rallies at SRC meetings is that it's difficult to watch the meeting because there are so many people. It's easier to watch the meeting at home on TV. The best recourse now is to go to Council. Especially with Germantown HS, the logistics of moving the students to Roosevelt just doesn't make sense. Are the Roosevelt students still going to Leeds? If the Roosevelt students aren't going to Leeds, then there won't be enough room in the Roosevelt building for Fulton, Roosevelt, and Germantown students. Also, does Roosevelt have the separate additions like GHS has so that the younger children can have a separate building/wing of the school?
Submitted by Paul Socolar on March 8, 2013 5:00 pm

We've added a link to a NewsWorks video with some powerful raw footage of the crowd reaction to the 3-2 vote to close University City.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 8:00 pm
Why this won't be successful: there is no unity. each politician who spoke, each clergy member who spoke, each parent and teacher who spoke all had one goal in mind.. saving THEIR school. not all of the schools.. just THEIRS. We don't care if you close Robeson... just don't close Germantown.. Leave Bayard alone.. oh you're not closing Pierce anymore? this right sizing isn't so bad anymore... You can not beat a united front-the SRC- with a divided army.. You hold up signs that say save "OUR" schools.. but really what you want is for them to save YOUR school. united we stand, divided we fall.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 9:21 pm
The divide and conquer strategy is working to the benefit of those interested in privatization because people are primarily concerned about their own schools. The key is to unite those people from the schools that will be closing and other concerned citizens into a broader movement. There is momentum on City Council to do this. For some schools, there isn't a reason to fight the closing of the school. The Fulton community said, "Close our school, but move us to Germantown HS." Some of the middle schools, like Shaw MS, should close because their students can just go to schools like Harrington that are K-6 but will become K-8. This is just good management and use of resources. I still don't understand why the District is wasting money on leases for schools like Constitution HS. Cancel these leases and move these schools before closing other schools. EGS
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 8, 2013 9:19 pm
You are so right. It's all divide and conquer. Yes,almost all of Hite's comments are taken verbatim from The Broad Foundation Propaganda Page--actually booklet. It would be funny if not so insidious, phony and reprehensible. Close Public Schools so Charter operators can expand their for profit operations and the whole time it's being done, take the moral high road about caring for kids. How many times did we hear Ackerman end her diatribes with "for the kids? "
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 8, 2013 9:29 pm
Hite doesn't even try to be so two-faced as Arlene Ackerman was. When was the last time that Hite ended by saying "This is for the children?"
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 8, 2013 10:46 pm
I have been saying that for weeks now- Arlene with ALL her faults was more of an educator than Hite, At least she used some proper jargon..As we used to say "dude ain't too swift."
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 9, 2013 7:20 am
"Dude don't care," is much more likely the case. Read about his tenure down South for evidence. Ackerman at least pretended better. Hite seemed bored to death at the meetings as though he'd rather be having open heart surgery than sit there a minute longer. Ackerman loved the stage and the attention she received. She was "the SHOW."
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 9, 2013 7:01 am
EGS--Maybe it's because Hite's role is different. He's scripted to close the coffin while Ackerman's was to set the stage. Gallows humor I admit but I could be right...............................but so could you. In any case, the rhetoric is right out of the Broad Foundation's Handbook and it's too horrible for civil words.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:20 am
BINGO Joe as always. Actually I think Vallas set the stage, because after Katrina the teacher's union was decimated and he facilitated charter expansion down there.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:59 am
Thank You. I forgot about Pistol Paul and his Vaudeville Act.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 9, 2013 9:39 am
Sorry--I just stole my daughter's computer and forgot to change the name.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on March 9, 2013 3:54 pm
As incompetent, outlandish, and two-faced as Dr. Ackerman was, she actually did do some a few good things. Correct me if I'm wrong, but she implemented weighted funding to equitably distribute resources and instituted universal feeding at some high-poverty schools. At the same time, nepotism was rampant under he watch, e.g. with Universal Companies. The SPI was woefully inaccurate. She was often autocratic and imposed her will on people instead of being more collaborative. And then she filed for unemployment and took the $905,000 buyout with no shame. With Dr. Hite, he's trying to implement a system of tracking and inventorying supplies, which is essential. That should have been in place for decades. He is a bit for open to change, in that he started with Action Plan v.1. At the same time, what has he done to build trust with school-based employees? He will never accomplish anything substantial unless he builds trust. He has not lobbied Harrisburg enough for more money. Where's the news coverage of him up in Harrisburg? I haven't seen any. Joe, you'll probably think I'm naive. However, there are some districts that have good superintendents. Superintendents can't always be popular because they have to make hard decisions. The key thing is, do they listen, do they collaborate, and are they transparent? EGS
Submitted by tom-104 on March 9, 2013 3:34 pm
"Do they listen"? Yes "Do they collaborate?" Never, the previous is just to give the appearance of democracy. "Are they transparent?" H*** no!
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 9, 2013 4:56 pm
The answers are no, no, and NO but I do hope your open mindedness is rewarded. I've seen this act lots of times over these many moons and it's never pretty. Hite will do exactly what he has been told to do. If he were to change that script, he'd be wise not to buy any green bananas as he'll be gone with yesterday's news. Watch his responses to questions. No matter what he is asked, he responds the same over and over again. Kinda like The Manchurian Candidate, programmed and robotic.
Submitted by tom-104 on March 9, 2013 6:16 pm
Ok, I'll agree with 3 no's. What I meant by they listen is that they listen to see how they can get this privatization over. They will tweak things by what people are saying to get their ultimate goal. Like a commenter said, Hite is like the Manchurian candidate, very robotic. It is surreal to read the Broad School Closings Handbook and see the phrases he uses in the Handbook verbatim.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 9, 2013 6:15 pm
Tom 104---Give me some cred. That was I who labeled him the Manchurian Candidate. It really is scary to hear him quote that silly drivel over and over and ..............................
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 9, 2013 4:41 pm
EGS------Speaking of robots, look at Heather or Feather or whatever her name is. She looks like she just fell off the lap of a ventrilloquist. OK--I may have spelled it wrong so kill me now.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 9, 2013 10:15 pm
LMAO Feather Houston is her name. I have no idea who she is or where she came from. As for Pritchett his dad taught music in my Jr. High in the 60's.
Submitted by tom-104 on March 10, 2013 12:55 am
People should really be aware who we are dealing with. http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/s/src/about-us/feather-houstoun http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/s/src/
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on March 10, 2013 9:48 am
Well, the more I see Feather, the more I start remembering Edgar Bergen and Jerry Mahoney. Showing my age but so what !! Tom--I always enjoy the articles you present BUT me thinks the time has past for us to focus on our enemies' resumes. We know what they are and what they are doing. That ship has sailed. WHAT do We do NOW, is the question I have ?? Clearly, Obama has been impotent and Duncan even more harmful so we can't get help there. Mutter is,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,well, you know what he is so no help there either. Which leaves us with exactly WHAT? Jordan??, not Michael but rather Jerry "let's play mouse" Jordan??
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 10, 2013 9:35 am
Yes, Let's collectively create a "Do Now" (Many SDP teachers can relate to this terminology) to focus our efforts. In the meantime, you can join Diane Ravitch's brand new organization (NetworkforPublicEd) for $5 and help effect change on both a local and national level.

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