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SRC to hold action meeting Thursday for first time since departure of Ramos

By David Limm on Nov 20, 2013 01:40 PM

In the first voting meeting of the School Reform Commission since Pedro Ramos resigned as chairman, the remaining four members of the panel will meet tomorrow to act on a list of resolutions that include a large number of donation acceptances. 

A District spokesman said that Commissioner Wendell Pritchett will preside over the meeting as acting chair, as he has done when Ramos missed a meeting. Gov. Corbett still has not announced a replacement for Ramos. The governor's selected candidate will have to be confirmed by the state Senate.

One resolution that may draw attention at Thursday's meeting is the proposed change to the charter of People for People Charter School in Fairmount. The District has agreed to allow the school to expand from a K-8 school to include the high school grades, as long as the school remains below its current enrollment limit of 540 seats, unless otherwise agreed to. The charter's amendment would also come with a proviso that the school will not skirt the rules by enrolling students beyond the set cap and later seeking payment for those students from the District or state. 

The shuttered Solomon Charter School has been a recent and prominent example of a charter flouting the intent of the SRC in suspending the school code to limit costly charter growth. Solomon appealed directly to the state for hefty payouts to cover overenrolled students, even after its closure.  

Other resolutions of note include the following donations and grants.

  • The William Penn Foundation is giving $1,926,000 through a two-year grant that will provide college counseling and academic supports. More than two-thirds of the grant dollars will go toward a contract with City Year.
  • A $480,000 donation from the Philadelphia Education Supplies Fund, the first installment in Mayor Nutter's effort to raise nearly $2.5 million for classroom supplies over five years, will be accepted. Most of the money came from two donors and the city itself.   
  • The District will be voting to accept a donation from Achievement Network, a Boston-based company that specializes in data-driven instruction, to begin a pilot program in 10 schools. National funders of the program include the Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Walton Foundation, Dell Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education.
  • The Workshop School gets two grants -- of $150,000 and $91,600 -- from Project Based Learning, through donations from State Farm Youth Advisory Board and Next Generation Learning Challenges.
  • Receiving elementary schools Blaine and Kelley will be receiving gifts of $115,000 and $160,000, respectively, from the Philadelphia School Partnership.

Members of the public who are interested in testifying can register to speak by calling the School District Office of Parent, Community & Family Engagement at 215-400-4180 no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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Comments (10)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 20, 2013 3:06 pm
Shouldn't Hite's 440 staff consider how outside funding is distributed? The magnet Workshop School is getting over $200,000 on top of the money they already took from the Phila. School Dictatorship. Meanwhile, other schools have cut staff to the bone and teachers are paying out of pocket for everything. The Workshop only has about 80 students. 80 students get another $200,000????
Submitted by ConcernedRoxParent (not verified) on November 20, 2013 4:46 pm
The schools applied for the grants, not the district. Any school can apply for grants.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 20, 2013 4:53 pm
They have a lot of staff for a few students. They have "community partners." This enables the school to have time to apply for grants. Meanwhile, many other schools are bare bone. It is another example of the apartheid system of education thriving in the School District.
Submitted by Dave Mandell (not verified) on November 20, 2013 4:08 pm
The District will be voting to accept a donation from Achievement Network, a Boston-based company that specializes in data-driven instruction, to begin a pilot program in 10 schools. National funders of the program include the Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Walton Foundation, Dell Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education. Are you kidding me? These oligarchs who are trying to destroy public education with failed/never tested policies?!?!? This is right out of the corporate destruction movement! WHICH SCHOOLS? WHAT EXACTLY IS "THE PROGRAM....?"
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 20, 2013 5:03 pm
Yes - this is scary. The buzz words - "data driven instruction" - is assume is connected to some so called "blended learning" which will benefit the likes of Dell, Microsoft, etc. Data driven instruction assumes learners are widgets that can be formed into robotic "regurgitators." This isn't about learning, thinking, creating, etc. It is about more corporate control of schools.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on November 20, 2013 5:21 pm
It is funny that I was just talking to a colleague that what I missed most about being a teacher and then being an assistant principal is walking into a classroom and seeing such things as the title of the Greek myth "The Odyssey" (Ulysses in Latin) writtten on the board. I would take over the class for a bit and talk to the kids about the "Tales of Odysseus" and his journey. The story of the Trojan horse and Odysseus' ploy to take over the city of Troy comes to mind when I read the above report. Are we still teaching mythology in our English classrooms? Or has it given way to the mythology of the war against public education?
Submitted by please (not verified) on November 20, 2013 6:03 pm
A-27 Memorandum of Understanding with Mastery Charter Schools – Philadelphia Schools Compact Teacher Effectiveness Program RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a Memorandum of Understanding with Mastery Charter School to implement the Philadelphia Schools Compact Teacher Effectiveness program, originally authorized by the School Reform Commission, pursuant to Resolution B-1, approved on October 17, 2013. A-25 Categorical/Grant Fund: Grant from the Philadelphia Schools Partnership – Professional Development/Acceptance of Donations from Philadelphia Schools Partnership – Student Engagement, Academic Services, Professional Development RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee: (i) to accept with appreciation a generous grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership to pay for professional development activities at the James G. Blaine Elementary School, valued at approximately $5,000, for the period commencing November 22, 2013 through August 31, 2014 and (ii) to execute, deliver and perform such documents necessary to further the intent of this Resolution; and be it FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee: (i) to accept with appreciation the donation of student engagement initiatives and academic consulting services at the James G. Blaine Elementary School, valued at approximately $110,000, from the Philadelphia School Partnership, for the period commencing November 22, 2013 through August 31, 2014; and (ii) to execute, deliver and perform such documents necessary to further the intent of this Resolution; and be it FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee: (i) to accept with appreciation the donation of academic coaching supports, professional development supports, and academic consulting service at the William D. Kelley Elementary School, valued at approximately of $160,000, from the Philadelphia School Partnership, for the period commencing November 22, 2013 through August 31, 2014; and (ii) to execute, deliver and perform such documents necessary to further the intent of this Resolution. David, Can you explain what these grants are about? Is the SRC voting to have PSP and Mastery deliver professional development services to public school teachers? Thanks.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 21, 2013 7:49 am
A-22 would seem to outsource charter oversight to a charter-linked consulting firm. Clients on the front page include Broad Foundation, KIPP, CPS - http://www.schoolworks.org/ Charter Office A-22 Operating Budget: $107,800 Contract with SchoolWorks – Site Visit Consulting Services Support RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission hereby authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver, and perform a contract with SchoolWorks to coordinate and execute critical elements of the charter school renewal review process, including renewal site visits, renewal site visit reports, internal renewal evaluation team meetings and renewal recommendation report preparation, for an amount not to exceed $107,800, for the period commencing November 30, 2013 through June 30, 2014.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 21, 2013 12:01 pm
SchoolWorks is the organization that has been doing charter school site visits for the past several years. They do work directly with some charter schools but do this kind of work for many districts too. The site visit always includes district charter office staff and the report is one piece of evidence that the charter office uses to make their recommendations about renewals.
Submitted by Lisa Haver on November 21, 2013 9:22 am
And this: A-16 Categorical/Grant Fund: $75,000 Grant Acceptance from the Gates Foundation – Teacher Convening RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept, if awarded, a grant from the Gates Foundation, for the purpose of offering a Teacher Convening conference series, for an amount not to exceed $75,000.00, for the period commencing November 22, 2013 through June 30, 2014. What is "Teacher Convening"? The SRC voted to approve two Gates-funded projects last month,including one on "Teacher Effectiveness". I tried to ask them what that was, but interim Chair W. Pritchett told me he would not answer my question because I was asking it at the wrong time. Rich, It looks like they are wheeling in that Trojan Horse one resolution at a time. But who can blame them? Very few people show up to try and stop them.

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