PSP responds to Helen Gym's commentary on universal enrollment
If the Notebook is going to delve into the proposed universal enrollment process, it should begin with the facts.
Start with the purpose of universal enrollment: to simplify the process of applying to schools for families and make access to the city's best schools more equitable. Also note that universal enrollment is a goal of the Great Schools Compact, which was signed by Mayor Nutter, the School District, charter and Catholic school leaders, and the state secretary of education. Philadelphia School Partnership serves as project manager to the Compact Committee, which includes representatives from all of these.
The Compact states:
We will pursue a system of “universal enrollment” – i.e., aligning schools’ application procedures, from public announcements to application materials to lottery dates and other timing, as uniformly as possible. Expanding the number of high performing schools will only truly serve parents and students if they are more readily able to access, understand and apply for the options available to them.
Here are other important clarifications to Helen Gym's commentary:
- The Compact Working Group on universal enrollment is not a private entity, but rather a working group consisting of school operators, representatives of the School District, education nonprofits, and a student advocacy organization. It is an advisory group only. The working group has sought and received parent feedback on universal enrollment over the past six months in a number of venues. It has also sought and received feedback from school leaders, community and faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and other education leaders. Before implementation by the District, a vote by the School Reform Commission would likely be required, which in turn would require additional public discussion.
- Universal enrollment does not make choices for students. Students choose schools and rank them in order of preference, and universal enrollment uses software to attempt to give every student the highest possible match. In New Orleans, 84 percent of students receive one of their top three choices, and 99 percent receive one of their top five choices. In Denver, 70 percent of all students get their first choice, and 84 percent of students receive a top-three choice.
- Early-stage interviewing for an executive director to oversee universal enrollment had begun in late summer, but has been postponed due to the delay in full implementation of PhillySchoolApp.
- As proposed, students who desire to attend their neighborhood District school would still be assured of that option under universal enrollment.
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation did not fund universal enrollment in Philadelphia.
- In all cities that have used universal enrollment, data systems have been established to ensure confidentiality of student data. School operators have access to the data only for students who apply to their schools, as is the case under existing practices. Here’s how the system works in New Orleans. The data-controversy example of inBloom, from New York, that Gym cites is unrelated to New York City's long-running universal enrollment system.
- Until Philadelphia school operators formally agree to participate in a universal enrollment matching system, none of the policy decisions around how the system would work can be finalized. But it is true that students receive a single match in New Orleans, New York, and Denver. This benefits the many students who, under previous practices, ended up without an acceptance to any schools or only to their neighborhood school; at the same time, it does limit the number of acceptances (or "matches") for those students who, today, may be accepted to five or more schools and, then, can only choose one. For example, at the briefing for City Council that Gym references, a parent told the story of her child who was rejected by all of the charter schools he applied to -- and denied admission to his neighborhood school because of overcrowding. Note that a universal enrollment system would not limit application choices: Students would be able to apply to multiple schools and rank their choices in order of preference.
The bottom line is that the current system is too complicated and unfair for far too many families across the city. All students should have equal access to high-quality schools, and school operators from all sectors are collaborating to make this possible.
Kristen Forbriger is the manager of communications and public affairs for the Philadelphia School Partnership.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
I'm sorry, you are off on here. How can you defend this process--even if you defend this idea.
The groups are not open to the public, it is not acceptable for a district that has 80+% of students eligible for free and reduced lunch to require a fee of any kind. I have not, ever been invited to a meeting to give feedback or input--there is NO community engagement for someone like me. I know that confidentiality clauses are required for the working group. I know that ELC had to fight for the one measely seat that they have. I know that the utilization rate in New Orleans is low and that right now, there are students unable to get into a school. Likewise for Denver. If it walks like a duck . . .
"The Compact Working Group on universal enrollment is not a private entity, but rather a working group consisting of school operators, representatives of the School District, education nonprofits, and a student advocacy organization. It is an advisory group only. The working group has sought and received parent feedback on universal enrollment over the past six months in a number of venues. It has also sought and received feedback from school leaders, community and faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and other education leaders. Before implementation by the District, a vote by the School Reform Commission would likely be required, which in turn would require additional public discussion."
The opposite of private, in this context, is public, not "working". We still don't know who that student group is. No mention of parents, teachers or community members. I don't know when PSP has sought feedback on UE or how. I attended a meeting last year at Temple that I happened to find out about a few days before which had representatives from Education Voters and PSP; it was more of a sales pitch than an informational session. I don't know of any others, and if there were some, they were not announced on either PSP's or the district's website.
Who does the advisory group advise?
A vote by the SRC would likely be required? For those of us who attend SRC meetings and wade through the pages of resolutions, this is a a joke. At the last SRC meeting, I asked a question about two programs which were funded by Gates/PSP, and I was told that it was not the right time to ask the question. There have been numerous grants/contracts funded by PSP, including one for "recruitment of senior staff" and one for principal training, which have been rubber-stamped by the SRC without any discussion or explanation.
The point is, to put it crudely: butt out. We don't want private, corporate funded organizations deciding which schools are funded and how much, who gets hired at administrative levels or which schools our students will attend.
We don't want private organizations interfering in public education. You mean, like the union? Specifically, the private union staff who have office in 440 to oversee the public employees there?
In case you've forgotten, the PFT
Lisa, YOU butt out. Bad news: you don't get to pick and choose who participates in public dialogue. You bucket anyone who doesn't agree with you as "private, corporate funded organizations." Newsflash: our city, our country, and our world all function BETTER because of competition and the efficiencies created by corporations. Cite ONE way the District operates in the most efficient way possible. Literally ONE WAY. Good luck, because it doesn't exist.
"Private, corporate funded organizations" aren't the enemy here.
Teachers and students ALIKE need more efficient use of limited resources (something corporations do FAR better than the public sector every time), leadership, and guidance.
Stop your nonsense. It's divisive. It's disgusting. And you're getting in the way of kids getting the resources they need to learn, grow, and thrive in Philadelphia.
I winced my way through your corporate cheer, thinking of the savings and loan debacle and the banking disaster. Clearly there's a bit more to the corporate story than the self-denying efficiency you invoke.
Students need to learn to make more efficient use of resources? Now we're blaming our underfunded students for their inefficient use of resources? Could you give me specific examples? I'd love to meet some of the students in the SDP who have been given enough resources to have anything to spare. Waste is largely a matter of abundance, and I haven't seen anything approaching abundance in the SDP in my decades in the system. A sufficiency of resources would be a monumental step forward for us.
It's ridiculous for teachers to be underpaid so that the top 1% reaps more profit. It's even more ridiculous to say that students should be tightening their belts.
I never called for "students" to tighten their belts - no way. Philadelphia students are SEVERELY under resourced. No one disagrees with that, especially not me.
The DISTRICT needs to be more efficient in its use of our limited resources. And, yes, I can be VERY specific with my examples. Let's look at the inefficient distribution of resources at two vastly unequal schools and the allocation of the most valuable resource: teachers.
In 2011-12, the average base salary at Alcorn was $56k per teacher (
Why is it that schools in wealthy districts operate "in the most efficient way possible"? The problem in all urban school districts is that they have a large number of low income families. Add to this, in Philadelphia our School District has been (mis)managed by the state since 2001.
The Philadelphia schools have been systematically starved of resources to build up charters, especially in the last five years. The District is like a medieval village that has been surrounded and under siege for years and now the corporate raiders such as Great Schools Compact and Philadelphia School Partnership are invading for the kill.
What we will be left will be a return to separate but unequal which will create an even more severe caste system in this country. We can't "butt out" because this is our community. We live here and we do not accept the world corporate education reform is trying to force on us!
tom-104 - It's a matter of scale. SDP is too large of a school district to manage efficiently. SDP was so poorly mismanaged that the state had to step in and take it over. It didn't work prior to 2001. From what I've seen, it already exists, there are the haves and then there are the have nots.
That's not why the state took over. The School District was making progress under Constance Clayton. When the state took over, they immediately tried to turn many of the schools over to Edison Schools. When this privatization plan failed, they went back to the drawing board and eventually came up with Imagine 2014.
And you are....?
I assume you have a name so why not use it? Not using your name makes me think you have something to hide. Calling people names is a smokescreen. I have to wonder whose interests you represent and why you are so unwilling to be identified.
To Concerned Citizen,
"You don't get to pick and choose who participates in public dialogue." But that is exactly what private, corporate funded organizations do. PSP's board meetings are not open to the public. The Great School Compact meetings, which they manage, are not open to the public. When public institutions are privatized, the public dialogue is left out or seriously controlled. The district has already started to operate this way. The meetings concerning the proposed school evaluation system were canceled when the parents who attended the first meeting voiced their concerns over assigning a grade to schools who have little resources. When the meetings were rescheduled, the district hid public notice of them on a page of on their website that was not easy to find and sent out invitations to selected groups on very short notice. SRC resolutions are not open to public comment until the night they are voted on.
"Our city, our country, and our world all function better because of competition and efficiencies created by corporations." Really? Tell that to the people who lost their savings, their houses, their jobs since the 2008 financial meltdown orchestrated by private banking institutions. Our schools do not need this efficient corporate model.
Helen has become a hater. As a long time teacher in Philly, we need a simple system that allows all children access. Maybe she doesn't want the children I teach having access to the charter school her kids go to.
Interesting how the spreaders of corporate ed disinformation are being exactly what they accuse others of being.
Someone who criticizes PSP, and is able to refute every one of their arguments with facts and research, is a hater?
They're getting desperate. Their little party, with the Governor as the guest of honor, is over.
According to Noam Chomsky, the tactics of the corporate elite is exactly what happened in Germany, setting the stage for the Nazi takeover. We all know how that turned out. Please don't be dumb enough to think it couldn't happen. These folks have shown how cold blooded they are, deliberately setting up and starving the real schools, hurting our kids in the process and then blaming everything on the PFT who have the audacity to demand livable benefits and wages. ALL of these "Austerity" tactics are designed to create Apartheid between the citizenry. ALL people of conscience need to band together and fight this fascism.
A poster yesterday, whom we shall call, "Sweetpants," recommended I go back into retirement. It made a good point and I shall..........................at least for now.
"Also note that universal enrollment is a goal of the Great Schools Compact, which was signed by Mayor Nutter, the School District, charter and Catholic school leaders, and the state secretary of education. Philadelphia School Partnership serves as project manager to the Compact Committee, which includes representatives from all of these."
Yes, and that is the problem. None of the parties mentioned above have the children's best interest at heart, nor do they include parents and teachers. Again, politics trumps the parents' obvious sense of investment and right to make decisions for their children - and educators expertise in the best way to educate our youth.
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