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KIPP presents proposal to move into closing Wilson Elementary

By the Notebook on Jun 14, 2013 01:04 PM

by Sonia Giebel and Mark McHugh

KIPP wants to move into the soon-to-be closed Wilson Elementary School in Southwest Philadelphia, starting with a 100-student kindergarten next year and gradually expanding to a K-4 school.

Marc Mannella, CEO of KIPP Philadelphia, presented the proposal to a community meeting Thursday night called by City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who is among those fighting to keep Wilson open in some form.

“The majority of the parents, the grandparents, the neighborhoods, everybody, the whole neighborhood, this community, everybody wants to keep the school open,” Blackwell said. “I don’t know one person who doesn’t want the school open. That’s their first priority.”

The KIPP solution would not solve the neighborhood’s biggest concern -- that the current students at Wilson will have to travel a long distance to Lea Elementary without, community members say, sufficient guarantees of their safety.

And it also flies in the face of the School Reform Commission’s decision to freeze any charter school expansion until the District has gotten out from under its financial crisis.

Mannella, however, said that he had been in contact with District leaders about the plan and that it hasn’t been rejected out of hand.

“We don’t have a ‘yes,’ we don’t have a ‘no,’ we have a ‘hang on,’” he said.

He said that KIPP would rent the building and educate the 100 kindergartners at its own expense in the first year, not asking the District for the payment it would be owed. This would create a “one-year bridge,” in Mannella's words, and presumably skirt the SRC’s determination not to add any charter seats.

But, after that, KIPP would add a grade each year and eventually become a 500-student K-4 charter school with full District funding. The school would be called KIPP: Encourage.

“What we’re doing at KIPP is changing lives,” Mannella said.  “We’re trying to be part of the solution.”

He said the plan would also keep the building open at a time when community members fear that crime will increase if it is abandoned.

District: No charter expansion

Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn said that the SRC has been talking to charter operators, including Mannella, but remains firm on not granting any new seats to charters for the next school year.

"Our current fiscal crisis requires this shared sacrifce," Kihn wrote in an email. "Unfortunately, the families of District schools are being forced to sacrifice, as are our employees, as are charter schools."

At the same time, he said, the District remains open to "creative solutions to our complex financial challenges," specifically "ways to reduce the net cost of charter schools to the District."

Presumably, Mannella's plan to educate the 100 kindergartners at its own expense could reduce the District's net costs next year if KIPP cut enrollment at its four existing schools and didn't seek to put an expansion request for these students in its charter. Kihn also said that the District was not now considering charter expansion requests beyond next year, but charters can be amended later if the District gets a more stable funding base.

Pressed further on the KIPP plan, Kihn wrote: "At this time any [charter] school's actions, creative or not, that would require an increase in the authorized seat numbers written into their charter agreement constitutes an expansion."

The District must plug a $304 million budget hole for its next fiscal year and is seeking $120 million from the state, $60 million from the city, and $133 million in union concessions. Just two weeks from the deadline for Harrisburg and City Hall to adopt their budgets, nothing has been settled. City Council passed a $2 cigarette tax, but to be applied, it would require Harrisburg's approval. State legislators have been discouraging about coming up with anything near the $120 million for city schools.

So far, to make ends meet, the District has laid off nearly 3,800 workers, including all its counselors and secretaries, most assistant principals, more than 600 teachers, and every school-based support worker.  

The District also voted to close 24 generally underutilized schools, including Wilson, in an attempt to “rightsize” and eventually cut overall costs. Although some other school communities successfully lobbied the SRC to keep their schools off the closure list, Wilson was not among them. But since the March vote, parents have continued to lobby to keep Wilson open and they have a powerful ally in Blackwell.

Kihn said, however, that there are no plans to reverse Wilson’s closure.      

Concerns about safety

At Thursday’s meeting, not everyone among the 60 or so in attendance was sold on the KIPP proposal. Some community members stressed that they were most concerned about the safety of the current students who would have to commute to Lea, located a mile to the north across highly trafficked thoroughfares like Baltimore Avenue and Spruce Street.

Transportation isn’t provided for students, no matter how young, unless they live at least 1.5 miles away from Lea, at 47th and Locust Streets.

“The crime rate around that school [Lea] is terrible. They have all those halfway houses. They get out the same time the kids do,” said Wilson parent Lisa Woods.  

Blackwell agreed. “Going from here to Lea is like going from here to South Philly or Germantown. It is not at all the same area. That’s a big, big problem.”   

According to Woods, many community members do not own cars, and their children would be forced to walk to school, regardless of weather or safety concerns. They also worried about overcrowding in the Lea building with the addition of several hundred students.

“We’re concerned about everything from transportation to neighborhood fights, to all of the community issues that you have when you take two different areas of the city and put it together,” Blackwell said.

Quetta Jefferson, head of the West Shore Civic Association, is primarily worried about what will happen to the Wilson students. “We’re fighting for our children’s right to stay,” she said.

Regardless of KIPP’s possible move into Wilson, 1st through 4th graders and current teachers at Wilson will be displaced. Jefferson said they are looking into a private transportation alternative.  

At the meeting, KIPP promised community members preference in their lottery, practically ensuring that a Wilson-based kindergarten would be populated with neighborhood children.   

Mannella hopes to move into Wilson because of its proximity to KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter.

KIPP had originally wanted to rent the shuttered Turner Middle School, but the District relocated Motivation High School into that building.

Plans for K-12 networks

KIPP Philadelphia now operates four schools in the city -- three in North Philadelphia and a middle school in West Philadelphia -- that educate more than 1,000 students, according to its website. Its goal is to create two K-12 networks.

Its North Philadelphia charter is up for renewal, and it is seeking more than 1,000 new seats to fill in missing grades and otherwise expand. The three schools now operate as a K-2, 5-8, and 9-11.  

The SRC’s next meeting is June 19. The commission is demanding that charters seeking renewals sign an agreement with an enrollment cap. KIPP is among several charters that have not yet done so.

KIPP does not participate in the Renaissance Schools initiative, in which low-performing District schools are converted to charters. It prefers to start its own schools in underserved neighborhoods one grade at a time.

Sonia Giebel and Mark McHugh are interns at the Notebook. Contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa contributed reporting.

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Comments (52)

Submitted by Helen Gym on June 14, 2013 6:00 pm

This is a pretty stunning investigation. To rephrase:

  1. Wilson was closed because it was underutilized, but of course it's perfectly OK for KIPP to take over with just one kindergarten class.
  2. The District said it would not approve charter expansions, but KIPP said District officials didn't say no when asked about Wilson?
  3. KIPP is promising neighborhood seats despite the fact that charters are supposed to run by state lottery. How does that work exactly?

At a time when thousands of parents, students and community members are taking time off from work and family to fight for more funding for the District, is the District pre-paying our hard work by diverting it again into charter expansion rather than getting our public schools back on track?

Submitted by concerned teacher (not verified) on June 14, 2013 7:53 pm
Looks like it, right? No charter expansion is a joke. If this is true why is Wissahickon Charter building a new school at Chew and Washington Lane? They propose a 2014 opening. I doubt it's to be kept empty....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 7:36 pm
Maybe because they received expansion last year or the year before. Maybe it won't be empty because they perform well and parents/children want to attend the school. Maybe it won't be empty because the school will be beautiful despite the fact that the charter gets less money and no funding for facilities.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on June 15, 2013 8:30 pm
Yes, one of the most segregated, highest SES schools in the city that was sanctioned because of its exclusionary admission policies got a charter renewal--it just proves the system is corrupt.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 15, 2013 8:25 pm
Kristin, The system is rigged in favor of the charters and it's so sickening. I would love to support a school like Green Woods, except that it is very exclusive, and therefore, seems to operate like a private school at public expense. I work with children who have low-incidence disabilities and a school like Green Woods would never service their needs appropriately. Most of my students do not live in our school's catchment area either. If their parents want their child to receive an appropriate education, they don't even have the choice of choosing their neighborhood school. There are just so many flaws with the idea of school choice. EGS
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 15, 2013 8:33 am
You just can't make this stuff up. What is unfolding before my eyes just gets more surreal as I watch it happening. We knew this is what was going to unfold when the school closings were being orchestrated because it is "the game plan" of those who seek to privatize public schools, but when KIPP pounces on Wilson even before the end of the year, the stark reality of what is really happening in "all of this" is like a cold smack in the face. It just shows the lunacy of the corporate takeover of our public schools and the self interest of the KIPP organization. When are we going to start operating on the best interests of the children and their communities and not on the best interests of the corporations who only seek to gain profit for those who run the organization? Please do not forget that KIPP is a national organization run by corporate outsiders. Personally, I like Marc Manella, and I liked all of their teachers and administrators who I met when I visited a KIPP school. They and their teachers do a good job. But they can't do anything any better than the real public schools which serve the local communities and are run for their best interests. If there are enough students in the area to accommodate KIPP"s self serving plans, then there are enough students to keep Wilson open. Why would anybody who is advocating for the best interests of students, advocate for a school entity which gives them, their parents, and the local community less rights in their schools? It is time for the SRC to put a stop to this charade.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 15, 2013 2:39 pm
Rich, I thought that the University of the Sciences would be interested in purchasing the Alexander Wilson School property, just as Penn or Drexel would be interested in the properties of Charles Drew ES and University City HS. KIPP isn't all that different, really, because there are so many privatizing influences at KIPP, such as TFA, the Gates Foundation, and so on. Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick, Dean of the Howard University School of Education, wrote a very insightful piece about on of the factors that is really driving school reform, land development. I encourage you and everyone else to read this important piece here: EGS
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 15, 2013 4:55 pm
They're NOT advocating for the best interests of these kids, not at all. They're advocating for the privateers' "right" to rob from the poor. The SRC isn't going to stop squat and you know it, Rich. Also, not for nothin as they say in South Philly, I don't know how you can like somebody who is advocating against the same parents and kids about whom you hold such concern and compassion but that's just me.
Submitted by Junita (not verified) on November 11, 2015 7:47 pm

There is not such right not even close to the one that you are talking about, they have just to be as good for those changes as possible.


And if you are being asked about how to get followers on instagram, direct them there.

Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 15, 2013 3:04 pm
Now Helen, stop acting nastily like me. How dare we see the truth and speak about it? As Rich said earlier or rather implied earlier, we need to get active and stop talking so much.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 7:58 pm
Folk Arts?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2013 6:58 pm
Wilson was allegedly closed because it was "underutilized." It was a "higher performing" school than Lea. Lea also is "underutilized." If KIPP Inc. is allowed to open another school in a building which I assume would be easy to sell considering its location and condition, then who pays for the building? Why would KIPP be able to fill it with 500 students while the School District refused to listen to many parents who appreciated Wilson. Why didn't the SRC change the catchment for Penn Alexander and Lea to allow Wilson students to go to Penn Alexander? (The boundaries are gerrymandered for Penn Alexander. Shift Penn Alexander's boundaries and let Wilson student go to either Penn Alexander or Comegys. ) Why is Blackwell all of a sudden concerned? She knew about this long ago. There are far more questions than logical answers. The SRC/Hite/Khin have abandoned the children and schools in the School District and appear to operate under the direction of the Philadelphia School Partnership.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 10:09 am
I do not wish to take away from the hard work of the Wilson students, staff and principal but the overall proficiency rates of Wilson and Lea are within 5% or so of each other. To make AYP, Wilson had fewer tested grades, ethnic categories, no ESOL and a much smaller Special Education population than Lea. It is the shameful legacy of NCLB to strip schools of their contexts and pit one against the other.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 10:28 am
Thank you for the clarification. The ultimate insult is from KIPP leadership and Hite/Khin/SRC. If the SRC/Hite/Khin will not change the boundaries for Penn Alexander, Wilson and Lea, then Wilson is closed. There is no justification for opening it as KIPP which will strip the SDP of more money while not accepting all students in the catchment. Blackwell is self serving.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2013 10:00 pm
As someone at that meeting last night, I found it disturbing that Kipp already had a principal and staff ready to go for the school. Even though they say they don't have an okay from the district yet, it seemed almost like a sales pitch for something that was a done deal. I do not believe that KIPP is a good fit for the school and neighborhood. As one audience member pointed out, we are a diverse neighborhood and KIPP schools are decidedly NOT diverse. We want neighborhood schools that reflect the many cultures and ethnicities of our community, not a heterogeneous test prep factory. Not to mention... It would be incredibly insulting to parents for the district to consider allowing KIPP to expand in such a manner at such a difficult time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2013 10:02 pm
I meant to say "homogeneous", not heterogeneous.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2013 11:09 pm
If you look closely or NOT closely at all, all the money making charters pick and choose whom they want. Then they get the resources they want from the crooked pols who have the ultimate quid pro quo hook up. Look, this isn't even close anymore and the only people who can't see it are stone cold liars and folks who have their heads firmly entrenched in sand. Clearly they feel very safe doing the outrageous things they're doing right in everybody's face with complete impunity. Maybe, Jerry Jordan thinks the courts will save the real Public Schools or maybe he's complicit or "adapting" as someone else suggested. Hopefully, he's playing possum, and not mouse. It would be appropriate for the PFT to show "Life as we know it" rather than to remain "shocked, just shocked" 24/7. Foghorn Leghorn circa 2013.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 16, 2013 11:33 pm
The above is from Joe K.--Computer mistake--my bad---again !!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2013 10:56 pm
KIPP does not offer the kind of education that ALL kids need and deserve.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 2:35 am
I don't understand how bashing another school fits into supporting your own. I have registered by child in the Lea school after getting a private tour by an involved parent and found it a family oriented setting and very peaceful. I live near Lea and don't understand this comment about crime around Lea. From what I found when checking the figures the crime around the area where most Wilson parents live has far more crime than around Lea. I am not aware of a great deal of halfway houses in my neighborhood also. There is an issue present and that is the safety of the children. I attended a meeting where this same Lea parent wrote a safety report for Wilson on his own, that was accepted by the representatives from the Office of School Safety, and he was treated rudely by the Wilson parents, (don't remember his name). I feel for the Wilson parents but attacking any other school where people just like you go is counterproductive. We as a community need to stick together rather than tear each other down. Councilwoman Blackwell with her support for helping Wilson, I wonder if as a former teacher at Lea how much help she has lent to that school, and is she supportive of the attacks against her former education home. From looking at the Lea website I found that Mr. Roebuck has done a number of things to support the school and they seem to have a lot going on. If parents from Lea are fighting to support Wilson I wonder why so much bad talk is coming from "some" from that school toward Lea. I walked by with my child one day and saw a big party with dancing etc. and asked what was going on and found that Lea was holding a day to welcome Wilson to their school. They had face painting a food. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. When I watch the SRC meeting the next night some of the Wilson parents were attacking Lea saying they were not welcomed. The issue is not KIPP, Wilson closing, the district, etc., it is how we are going to support each other. Some Wilson parents have a long way to go in understanding that.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 10:03 am
This times 1,000! The children of Wilson and Lea know how to get along and have been getting to know each other since Wilson was initially proposed for closure. It is a small but vocal group, including some current Wilson parents and grandparents but mostly unaffiliated neighbors, who are seeking far too late to keep Wilson open by trumping up nonexistent discord between the two student communities. Why Blackwell is lending her support to this tiny group but not helping the much larger efforts that have the communities joining together on positive terms, I just don't understand.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 15, 2013 2:58 pm
Anonymous, One of the sad realities of the school closings process is that neighboring schools have pit themselves against each other. Instead of working together to strengthen neighborhoods and serve all students, it's a competition. This happened with Duckrey and M. H. Stanton and also with Wilson and Lea. All the while, our public school institutions are crumbling and from their ashes rise the privately-operated charter schools, who wish to grow and expand at public expense and the expense of public schools. Instead of fighting each other, public school communities need to put their rivalries aside and work together to save public education in this city. We have heard of the voices in Harrisburg who want all of Philadelphia's public school students in charter schools. People need to unite and take action before it's too late! EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 10:50 am
I think it says a lot about the district that, when approached about a charter RENTING one of the few closing schools in a marketable area likely to find a buyer, it did not immediately tell KIPP to take a hike. What would be the facilities costs of becoming a landlord? Looking at the Wilson building, I assume they would be high. How quickly would any rental profit be overtaken by the costs of the charter expansion? By the time KIPP adds on a 1st grade. This is madness. And how insulting to the community that KIPP is willing only to take its kindergarten students unsullied from having attended Wilson!
Submitted by Melani Lamond (not verified) on June 15, 2013 11:25 am
It appears that the crime rate around Lea is being greatly exaggerated. There used to be some group houses in the area - not "halfway houses," to my knowledge - but most have now been sold to owner-occupants. I second the thought that if the School District needs to close the schools, they need to sell them to the highest bidder - NOT keep them as rental properties. This is a highly desirable location. The SPD needs to get every dollar they can from the closed buildings. This building should be sold at market rates.
Submitted by Andy (not verified) on June 15, 2013 1:40 pm
100 kindergartners? From where?? This year Wilson had a total k-6 enrollment of 224 and more than half were from out of catchment. For perspective, here are kindergarten enrollments for nearby schools for the 2012/13 school year... Wilson, 41; Lea 59; PAS 73; Powel 53; Locke 51. So if drawing from the neighborhood, where is KIPP finding 100 kids for next year?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 2:06 pm
Exactly. If you look at the Facilities Master Plan for Southwest, there are only 173 students living in Wilson's catchment TOTAL: 96 attend Wilson, 24 attend other district schools, 45 charters, 5 special admission and 3 other. What this really looks like is a plan to depopulate Comegys.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 15, 2013 2:52 pm
Anonymous, I believe that you are correct about the plan to depopulate Comegys. Unlike Wilson, Comegys has more than enough students in its catchment area (645) to support a neighborhood school. (I used the link you posted.) However, in the last 7 years, Comegys has gone from being almost at capacity in 2006-07, to having an up-and-down pattern of enrollment each year. However, the years with the lowest enrollment in recent memory have been 2011-12 and 2012-13. As charter schools take over former public schools, the charter schools continue to destabilize more and more neighborhood public schools. It's like draining wetlands in order to kill the wildlife and then developing the land with asphalt, houses, and stores. But it's not just any public schools that will be destablized, but the ones with low-income students. Make no mistake, Penn Alexander is in no danger here from KIPP taking over Wilson because KIPP targets children of color, not white children. How many white KIPP teachers and administrators send their own children to KIPP schools? This is about other people's children and it's just plain sickening. EGS
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 15, 2013 8:28 pm
EGS-----Yes, it surely is NOT about children as in all the children. You are so right. This Jim Crow, Part 2. The delineation between who is being targeted and who is not, is stunning. That is why it continues unabated. The poor are being marginalized as always but this abuse is especially unattractive because it focuses on little kids and their futures or more realistically, their lack of a future. Nutter knows this. Hite knows this. Pedro knows this. Obama knows this. All of them and, of course, Corbett and his buddies in Harrisburg, also know that the 3 new prisons being built as I write this, will be filled with those same kids in a few years. But it continues.
Submitted by Andy (not verified) on June 15, 2013 2:26 pm
Great link. Spot on observation about Comegys, which would really be threatened by KIPP's plan here, but even Comegys only had 67 k grade kids this year.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 2:15 pm
"What this really looks like is a plan to depopulate Comegys" Something I hadn't thought of, but this makes sense in the context of everything else.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 7:55 pm
Comegys is in Corrective Action 3rd year. Reading proficiency and above is 24%, math is 25%. Hasn't Comegys started the depopulating trend with its historical poor performance? Helen, would you rather have children go to Comegys or Folk Arts? I mean really. There should be a real plan for charters and choice, with real accountability. Parents in many neighborhoods are choosing charters and the charters are out performing district schools.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on June 15, 2013 8:54 pm
No charters are not out performing district schools! Even though they have a less challenging student population (, significant barriers to entry, and draconian discipline policies, they still do not do better. Only 17% do better than similar district schools, and over 30% actually do worse.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 11:09 pm
13% of district schools made AYP compared to 30% of charters. Charter high school graduation rates are about 24% higher than district schools. If you remove special admit district schools, the numbers are staggering. The selective enrollment and barriers to entry are for a handful of charters at best. Wilson is not a poor school and should not have been closed. The lack of district planning for the past 5-7 years and failure to close schools that should have been closed (district and charter) are the real problems. Blaming charters for all of the district ills is irresponsible. Many schools around the city have been failing for thirty plus years. It makes educators look pathetic to simply argue for the status quo rather than making things better.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 16, 2013 11:20 pm
OUCH---I swear I tried to overlook your post but I just can't. Put on your thinking cap and listen to logic. Charters are not Public Schools because they can pick and choose whom they want no matter how inconvenient that is to hear. They can also remove kids very easily. Next, they receive everything they need from the pols who were instrumental in their genesis. Another fact is that charters are not transparent so why would you or I believe anything good they say. Chris Hitchens once said, What can be asserted without proof, can be dismissed without proof." Charter "proof" is intramurally based which means no transparency. Finally, you are right that for many years, the Public Schools have struggled. When the government marginalizes the poor and shows little support, expect many of those schools to suffer and then struggle. You are also right that the status quo should not be the goal. However, in a democracy, the goal needs to be an even playing field with "justice for all." That has not been the case for far longer than 30 years as you suggest." Be very careful about things you know that just ain't so," to quote the great Reggie Bryant. You make some valid points but feelings aren't necessarily facts. Read more and stay far away from The Kardashians and for now, the Phillies.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 16, 2013 11:11 pm
K.R.----Stop already with the truth !! It gets in the way of charter propaganda. It is amazing that even with all their "perks," they still fare worse than the real Public Schools which are being starved and then blamed for starving. Hollywood couldn't make this stuff up.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 10:54 pm
KIPP's Philadelphia proficiency rate in reading for 5th grade is 27%. Math is better at 44% but these scores aren't exactly flooring me.
Submitted by Andy (not verified) on June 15, 2013 2:08 pm
Parents who love Wilson should know that Wilson's principal, Sonya Harrison, will be taking on the principal role at Lea next year. If their kid already attends Wilson their kids' classmates will be at Lea next year. Lea has a very welcoming environment and just like the blocks surrounding Wilson, developers are spending a ton of money right now building brand new construction and renovating surrounding buildings-- both areas are a lot safer than they were just a short time ago. They have a crossing guard at Spruce in front of the school and I bet they'll have one on Baltimore too. It's not a short walk, but it's a beautiful walk through a nice neighborhood. I walk my son to nusery school every morning through the neighborhood at a distance equal to the Wilson to Lea walk. The fantasy that Councilwoman Blackwell and KIPP are selling is that Wilson will stay open. The reality is that this would be something completely different, and possibly to the detriment of our other nearby public schools.
Submitted by Former Life Skills Teacher (not verified) on June 16, 2013 3:53 pm
What is happening to Lisa Bell-Chiles?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 17, 2013 5:43 pm
I am wondering the same thing.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 17, 2013 6:54 pm
Doesn't know what her new school will be yet.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 17, 2013 6:52 pm
Doesn't CASA's contract stipulate that all principals be placed before new hired are given positions? New hires have been given principal positions while 160 CASA AP's and who knows how many principals do not have jobs. Where's the union?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2013 3:38 pm
The real story needs to be what is Jannie Blackwell done to help the school in her district. She is the Education Chair, and because the history of her family doing such great work in the community she has gotten a pass concerning this education fight. I see her at ribbon cuttings and the like,her face is at these meetings,but what exactly has she done? This is not an attack on her,but a honest question, can anybody say during this time what she has done for Wilson before this crisis, Lea, Comegys, et. al. She keeps saying what she is against to raise the funds for education,but what is she for? This is a crisis for our children and nothing should come before that. Poor people make decisions all the time to have their children eat first before they eat when funds are low,so the excuse that this will hurt retailers in the community reeks of hypocritical. You can go in these stores around the schools in question and see Blunts, Entourages, and all the cigarette wraps sold by the hundreds per week,for "weed" smoking.. What about taxing that? Is she against this? Why has she not voiced a concern about the same business people who are selling drinks and snacks which cause the kids to be hyper in class and disrupt the school so these schools have issues continually and run the kids, who have families that choose to nourish their children in a different way, out of the system leaving it to kids who are chemically spiked to fail. These are not bad kids just with bad situations. Silence from her office. What about our kids Mrs. Blackwell? She always starts her speeches with a praise to God, he said his judgement with be based on how we take care of the "least of these", which especially includes children.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2013 12:56 am
The charter schools receive $10,000 per student for education. The school district is supposed to receive the same but is forced to get by on less-than-half that. Those are the facts. Consider your own household having to make ends meet on half your income. Also, check out the people who make up the boards of the charter schools. Look for the names of the politicians from our area. No wonder they are pushing the charter schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2013 6:47 am
Those are not facts. When you look at district school budgets, many central office items are not included. Legal, human resources, building costs, utilities, insurances (property), maintenance contracts, debt service, central office compliance, IT, furniture, computers, supplies and EC transportation (facilities the largest item on this list). Charters are not funded at a higher rate district schools. This has been the fact from day one. It's amazing that people on this comment board consistently defend or attack people and issues based upon propaganda, rather than fact.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2013 2:28 pm
When you're defending the districts decades of failure, I guess you do need to just lie and make up 'facts'. Instead of lying, maybe try running quality schools that parents want to send their kids to. If you did that, there would be no charters.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2013 8:12 am
The fact is that the funding formula as it stands is not fair and equitable. The facts are that neighborhood schools serve ALL children, and if we really wanted a system of equity, we'd be focusing on how to support them. The fact that KIPP would try to move into Wilson before its doors are even closed, while parents across the district are fighting for adequate funding, is extremely poor taste.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2013 8:33 am
The funding formula is equally flawed, if not more so for charters. Parents are also fighting for choice and the best education for their children. Most charters serve all children, despite the propaganda spread via publications like this. Know this, the real power players on either side (district or charter) profit with the continued fighting and failure in public education. Whether corporate giants or union bosses, there are national agenda that are not based on what is best for students or teachers. Keep blaming charters while your profession continues to get shafted. The longer you refuse to ask the right questions and look for truthful answers, the longer this system will be a mess. BTW, the deals for the union concessions have already been made. It's just not profitable to let it out yet. The workers have to be kept scared (for their jobs), frustrated, angry and motivated enough to continue to push for more funding. Jerry will find out what he's going to agree to some time in July.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on June 18, 2013 2:08 pm
Man, you're playing both sides of every card which is impossible to defend nor refute. In any case, the truth is UNIONS protect all workers' rights and have for 100 years. Be careful what you know that just ain't so and remember that feelings aren't facts, no matter how strongly you feel about them. I am no fan of Jerry Jordan but I tend to think you're exaggerating in a big way. If you're right, Jordan would be liable criminally and he's not that dumb. Corporations are much more sinister and corrupt than all the unions together in the history of the world. Google Worker Rights in a Free Society to gain some insight. Just sayin. Google Henry Ford while you're at it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2013 9:53 pm
100 Kipp-notized Kindergarteners?!?!? Tragic.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 17, 2013 4:19 am
Actually, they refer to themselves as "Kippsters". No, I'm not joking.
Submitted by Urban teacher (not verified) on June 16, 2013 10:51 pm
Charter schools are "Poverty Pimps"!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 17, 2013 3:51 pm
I taught at Wilson under Sonya Harrison. She provided little support to teachers, and enabled the students in that school. She aslo encouraged social promotions and penalized teachers who attempted to give students the grades they "earned." Lea will be a mess next year.

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