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Groups push for referendum on SRC this fall

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on May 28, 2014 02:09 PM

Petitions bearing 40,000 signatures are calling for a nonbinding ballot question on creating a locally elected school board to run the Philadelphia public schools.

Right now, the School Reform Commission, which is appointed by the governor and mayor, is in charge of the city School District.

Katie Sipp, director of the group Pennsylvania Working Families, said it took about seven weeks to collect the signatures on the petitions that have been delivered to the city.

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Comments (5)

Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on May 28, 2014 3:38 pm
What is it about Philadelphia. Finding solutions to existing problems is hard and involves sacrifices. So instead of dealing with the problems at hand why not vote on senseless, ineffective and non-binding things. Just like city coucil does want to solve the school funding problem by passing taxes that bring the city's percentage contribution to educating its own kids in line with that percentage paid by every other district in Pennsylvania. That is too hard so they pass taxes they have no power to raise. So council passes a cigarette tax. Even though by law it does not have any power whatsoever to pass said tax. Why not pass a tax on the people in say Pittsburgh or maybe Allentown and tell them to wend the money to Philly. We do not have the power to pass that tax but we would like to have that power. No we have a non-binding vote on getting rid of the SRC. Do you really think the state enjoys running the Philly schools?? But they know if the Philly politicians were put in charge of its own schools they would run them into the ground. The resulting collapse would make the whole state look foolish. Be careful what you wish for. Do we really want Darrell Clarke in charge? The guy who wants to steal the $120 million Corbett gave the school to pay his DROP pension? The PFT thinks Darrell Clarke will pay for the schools when the state goes away??? Stupid waste of time and ballot space.
Submitted by Kayode O (not verified) on May 28, 2014 4:28 pm
I don't think the dissatisfaction with the SRC is all about funding though. I think most people who are educated of the situation of the SDP understand that the hands of the SRC are tied just as much as every school leader in the district including principals. I think people are fed up with the SRC's role in devoting resources to educational experiments and expanding the charter school presence in the city while shutting down under performing schools. There is a significant philosophical gap between education activists and the SRC now. I have a feeling the SRC's legacy is going to depend much on the performance of these three new high schools opening next school year. If these schools can successfully deliver on their goals of preparing their students for a post-secondary education, then one could make the argument that the District should share the blame for the state of public education in the city. High schools are notoriously hard to turn around and if these schools can do a good job of creating a positive school climate and culture while properly educating the students, then it proves that it can be done everywhere with the right systems in place. We will learn much from this experiment.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 8:52 am
Kayode, You're right another experiment at the expense of the students in all the other public schools. How much money are we spending this time to make the public schools appear to be failing?
Submitted by Lisa Haver on May 29, 2014 10:04 am
The schools are starting in September with 9th grades only with a grant from the Pew Foundation. In answer to my question last week, CFO Matt Stanski said that the cost to the district will be about $7 million over the next four years. By then, they will all be 9-12 grade. Two of the schools are in the same area and would take students from Edison H S. Much of the cost is in the creation of the new "Office of New Model Schools" which now has 7 full-time employees, two of whom will be principals at the new schools. One reason for concern is the secrecy involved in this project. The SRC held its community meeting on the subject last month--two months AFTER the SRC approved the three schools. Just before the SRC vote, one of our (APPS) members asked for an explanation of the resolution about what were then called schools A, B, and C. Green told her "We are not answering your question." You don't need to create three new high schools in order to have innovation. The idea is absurd. What you need is a climate of true cooperation between administration and faculty, you need for 440 to declare a permanent moratorium on pre-packaged and scripted curricula, you need to make an honest commitment to get schools the resources they need. Obviously, the SD and the SRC needs to stop its attack on teachers and other union members. You can't nurture a climate of cooperation and innovation under those conditions.
Submitted by Lisa Haver on May 29, 2014 12:14 pm
This is an excerpt from resolution A-32 of the Resolution Summary for tonight's (Thursday) SRC meeting: "Description: The School District of Philadelphia has been working with the Philadelphia School Partnership to support the expansion of a high performing School District schools, Hill-Freedman World Academy, and the growth of the Building 21 into a School District high school. The Philadelphia School Partnership has generously agreed to provide grants from its Great Schools Fund to support these initiatives. This project aligns with The School District of Philadelphia’s Declaration of Education by providing an active partnership among the School District, foundations, community organizations, local universities and colleges, community groups and others to create educationally and socially vibrant programs and interior and outdoor spaces at schools throughout the School District." Building 21 is one of the three new high schools. Anytime the district involves PSP in a project, attention must be paid.

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