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SRC won't adopt 'Doomsday II' budget

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 29, 2014 05:07 PM

Updated | 11:30 p.m.

The School Reform Commission declined Thursday to adopt a budget proposal that would raise class sizes as high as 41, cut 800 teachers, reduce special education services to their bare minimum, prevent all but the most basic building maintenance, and make further cuts in services like counselors and nurses.

The SRC made the decision even though failing to adopt a budget before the end of May violates the city charter.

"Rather than adopting a 'Doomsday II' budget – and give anyone the impression that the cuts it contains are feasible or acceptable – we are going to not act on the budget tonight," announced SRC Chairman Bill Green. "Instead, we will continue to focus our energy and attention on securing the needed funding for our schools."

Although Philadelphia public schools have been in dire straits before, this is the first time in recent history that a District governing body has taken such a step, indicating how this financial dilemma is worse than ever. Green said he did expect the SRC to meet again before the end of the fiscal year on June 30 to adopt a revised budget with additional revenues.

The SRC was acting on the recommendation of Superintendent William Hite, who decried the state's and city's failure to provide the District with recurring, sustainable funding for a second year in a row.

"Running schools this way for another year is unsustainable and does an extreme disservice to our students and our families," Hite said, his voice betraying his simmering frustration. 

The $2.4 billion budget, presented at the meeting by District Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski, is one that Hite said he "cannot endorse as educationally sound or economically prudent for the city or the state." 

Stanski said that the budget, which piles new cuts and layoffs on top of devastating reductions imposed for this year, was "wholly insufficient." 

In a press briefing after the meeting, officials made clear that they did not want to take an action that would trigger a round of massive layoffs when there was hope that more funds may come in.

"Whatever decision we ultimately have to make, there is no purpose in passing a budget that nobody hopes will be the final budget," said Commissioner Feather Houstoun. "We just had to make clear how unacceptable this level of revenue is and how damaging it would be to Philadelphia's children."

In his presentation at the meeting, Stanski said that the District needs a total budget of $2.8 billion "to stop many years of disinvestment" – or an additional $320 million in revenue beyond what it now has in hand to start a process of school improvement and transformation.

The District is seeking an additional $96 million from the city, $150 million from the state, and $95 million in labor concessions. The $96 million will bring the District just to the level of services it has now.

Stanski, Hite, and SRC members reiterated that the SRC has no taxing power of its own and must rely on what Hite and SRC members termed "an allowance" from the state and city.

Plus, Stanski explained that only 39 percent of the District's funds are discretionary. The rest is tied up in mandatory payments, including debt service, payments to charter schools, pensions, and contractual obligations.

The biggest area to make further cuts, he said, is in programs that directly impact educational services and classrooms.  

Hite said that if the commonwealth had a fair education funding formula, the District would have $4,000 more for the education of each student -- citing the results of a 2008 "costing-out" study that attempted to quantify the needs of each school district in the state.

He also explained that slashing staff is an inefficient way to cut expenses because there are one-time termination costs associated with each person's departure, but that the District has nowhere else to cut. Stanski said that to reach a $96 million reduction, it actually woul have to find $148 million in cuts. 

City Council wants to enact a cigarette tax to raise most of the $96 million sought from the city, but Harrisburg has so far declined to provide the authorization. Other options are on the table, but may not be passed in time to avoid a layoff process from starting.

Principals have already selected staff and set up rosters and budgets. If there are layoffs, they will have to start all over again. 

"This is the end of May," Hite lamented. "School starts in September. We are talking about dismantling one thing and trying to create something else. It's just not enough time. That's why this is so distressing to school administrators and school leaders and families and staff."

Advocates in the audience who addressed the SRC in the public comment portion of the meeting were surprised and grateful for the SRC's decision to make a statement by defying the city charter and refusing to adopt a budget.

"Oh, my gosh, thank you very much," said Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters PA, adding that the action "gives parents hope." 

Retired teacher Karel Kilimik, a consistent SRC critic, thanked the commissioners for  taking the step.

Gobreski urged the District to go a step further if adequate funding is not forthcoming: Open schools with the resources that they need and then close them when the money runs out.

Michael Churchill of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia urged the SRC to invite Gov. Corbett to come to an SRC meeting to hear how city students have so much less spent on them than students in surrounding, wealthier districts.

Ask him, Churchill urged, "why this is OK."

After the meeting, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan issued a statement calling the SRC's decision "the only moral option ... an acknowledgement that our schools and educators simply have no more to give."

And Helen Gym of Parents United for Public Education, another SRC critic, called the move "courageous." In refusing to pass a budget, the SRC "put the pressure where it belongs: on our elected officials at the city and state who are ultimately responsible for funding the education of our children."  

After the meeting concluded, Green told reporters that City Council had several times failed to adopt a city budget on time, without legal consequence. District General Counsel Michael Davis said the SRC members didn't take any legal risk.

"It was riskier to pass the budget without knowing what resources we would have," said Commissioner Farah Jimenez. 

Green said the real deadline is June 30, when city taxes for the following fiscal year must be in place.

Hite repeated that as superintendent, he is both a manager and an educator. "As a manager, I can say here’s what we have to do for balanced budget. But as an educator, it is more important for me to say, 'Here is what we need.'"



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Comments (47)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 8:07 pm
I commend the action taken (or not taken) on the budget tonight. But calls for schools to close midway through the next school year or not to open on time in the fall should be met with caution. I attended local schools in the early-mid '70s when strikes postponed school openings at least three years in a row. The enrollment loss in those years was palpable -- and this was long before charters offered an affordable alternative. Basically every family that could opt out of public schools did, by sending kids to private and parochial schools or moving out of the city. The funding crisis is dramatic and demands a dramatic response, but please, let's consider all the consequences before blithely urging schools to shut down. I'm sure those who want to see the school district and city go to *%## would rejoice but where will it put us in the long run?
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 30, 2014 9:56 am
I absolutely commend and support Dr. Hite and Bill Green on their stances and words spoken last night. I especially commend Dr. Hite for standing up for children and our school community in a very powerful and courageous manner. Last night was his most shining moment since he has joined our community. His words changed the entire tone of the SRC meeting which I have not seen in years. There was a sense that we have a "moral imperative" for all of us to work together for our children and our community and fight for fair funding of our schools. These significant quotes from Dr. Hite I lay squarely before our community: "Our severely under-resourced school system threatens the future of one of America's greatest cities." "Since my arrival two years ago, I have become increasingly troubled by what is happening in our schools and to our students and staff.... I hear the same message from parents, teachers, principals, students, and other staff -- that is no way to operate our schools." "It also creates a dynamic within the organization that is unhealthy." The last quote is dear to my heart for I have spoken many times in the last decade, including in an SRC address in August of 2009 and my book which I published in 2007, that our school district has become what I describe as an "unhealthy organization." I stand behind those words and Dr. Hite on this one. I stand squarely behind him. I believe a few others joined him last night.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 11:14 pm
No so fast! I still don't trust Hite, SRC, Green or any of the other phony , lying,self-serving hacks who align with Corbett ,Nutter, or the likes of Gleason. Hite did nothing for two years but ask for teachers, staff for concessions to fill the gap in their mismanged budgets.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 11:08 pm
I agree! Green and Hite have been installed to undermine public schools. This is just a chess move in an inevitable goal. New Orleans is the model. Green said so in his two position papers when he was a City Councilman.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 31, 2014 8:03 am
I assure you that our advocates are not naive about the political nature of what is happening and are prepared to be vigilant and vocal. I and others have read Bill Green's position paper and we do not agree with what he said as to New Orleans being a model which should be replicated. I assure you that APPS finds it repulsive and will not sit quietly if such a proposal is made. APPS members are well aware of the Broad Foundation playbook. I assure you of that. But our advocacy, and the advocacy of others, is intended to persuade the thinking of our leaders. Dr. Hite and Bill Green stood up for our children and our community at the last meeting. For that they were given props and support by many of their most vocal critics. I assure you that APPS, as Lisa Haver said, expects them to zealously and publicly go after the money we need even if they have to oppose the governor and his sidekick Zogby. For leaders to gain and hold the support of their followers, their words and their actions must be consistent. Let me put it this way -- their credibility is on the line.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 9:53 pm
"Dump the Gleason" We will save millions!!!!!
Submitted by larry (not verified) on May 29, 2014 9:06 pm
While this sounds laudatory it is a completely practical decision. If layoffs are announced in the next week or two those laid off get an immediate and extended summer vacation. The remaining teachers, children and staff will then be forced to hide in their classrooms and offices as chaos reigns.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 9:39 pm
Does is not cost the SDP more money to expand charters? Why are they being approved for expansion?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 30, 2014 12:10 am
For one of the charter schools, I think Maritime Academy, the overall enrollment number did not change, it was just the grade configuration. There's a reason why the District is holding the charter schools' feet to the fire on enrollment caps. The District educates many students who have IEPs, significant behavior problems, and other significant needs. The higher-ups in the District know this. They see the money that the District spends on lawsuits, private placements, comp ed payments, and so forth. The District higher-ups know that charter schools can't educate many students with significant needs. There has to be a system of "last resort" and the District is that system.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 9:27 am
I feel like you're exactly right. I am a learning support teacher in the city and the way things have been going it seems like the public schools will eventually only instruct students with special needs. Charter schools will be the schools that instruct all regular education students.
Submitted by Fed Up Schoolmarm (not verified) on May 30, 2014 11:58 am
Interesting to see how the whole Special Ed issue plays out in Pennsylvania - and particularly in Philly. When I began my career as a SPED teacher 20 years ago, kids who were labeled "Learning Support" really WERE Learning Disabled. Life Skills Support kids really WERE Life Skills Support kids. Not any more. The field of Special Ed has turned into one gigantic dumping ground for thugs, psychotics and habitually violent criminals - all labeled "emotional support" or "learning support" or "life skills support" - all given legal protection while they rob and rape and make life a living hell for all they come into contact with. It is because of this horrific turn of events that the number of college Special Ed majors dropped through the cellar. It is for this reason that what few men we had in the field fled like rats from a sinking ship. And it is for this reason that the state of Pennsylvania has made Special Ed licensure mandatory for new teachers. If teachers won't join the field willingly, by golly, they'll be FORCED into it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this recent bit of social engineering has had (predictably) disastrous results. The number of education majors in PA continues its nosedive and now those majors we DO manage to graduate are hightailing it to schools in other states. ....Stay tuned for further developments.
Submitted by Publius1788 (not verified) on May 30, 2014 4:05 pm
Dear School, I doubt your comment will receive many replies. Thank you for your honesty. When I was growing up, parents in Philadelphia could sent their children to relatively safe Catholic schools. These schools had far fewer resources than the public schools, but the atmosphere permitted learning for those who wanted to learn. The teachers and administrators never tolerated disruptive behavior of any kind. As a society, we need to find a way to create learning environments free of disruptive behaviors. Perhaps some if not most of the students you describe as needing “emotional support” would benefit most from a boarding, reform-school environment where male mentors could concentrate on teaching discipline and self-control. This would free your specialized teachers to concentrate on students with traditional learning disabilities. Furthermore, perhaps we need to rethink some of the ‘mainstreaming’ policies that place students with special needs in classrooms where their needs result in diminished opportunities for the other students. Go Frankford High! Sincerely Publius 1788
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2014 5:30 pm
The Catholic schools in the past are just like the charters: "The teachers and administrators never tolerated disruptive behavior of any kind.", they just send them to the disruptive students to the public schools.
Submitted by Publius1788 (not verified) on May 31, 2014 9:21 pm
Dear Anonymous, Actually, you are incorrect. Most of the time behavioral issues were addressed with a variety of measures that allowed the students to remain in their schools. The key first step was removing the unruly student from the class so the other children could return to their studies. The most effective measure was in-school detention. A month or so of individual study, well into the night and on Saturdays, with each day ending when a parent came to the school for their child often produced a positive outcome. This required the teachers and administrators to sacrifice their time to supervise the detentions, but that was considered part of the duties of the profession. The Philly Catholic schools-of-old were not burdened with mindless ‘zero tolerance’ policies and rarely used expulsion. Sincerely, Publius 1788
Submitted by maximootoo on May 30, 2014 6:36 pm
You are exactly right. My daughter who has taught at Mayfair Elementary for 6 years is being force transferred along with 8 other teachers because they don't have Special Ed certs. They have Masters but not Special Ed. The principal has decided that he wants all teachers in grades K thru 6 to be dual certified so they can teach the whole class with the special ed kids in there too. That way he won't need 2 teachers in there. No warning that he wanted this. Nobody said anything to these teachers. The SDP said he can do anything he wants if he thinks it will make his school better. She has school loans from college & Masters & now she is going to have to get a Special Ed certification also to continue to teach. I think it's ridiculous. As the mother of a teacher, I would tell any other mother if their child wanted to become a teacher in Philly to TALK THEM OUT OF IT!!!!
Submitted by Fed Up Schoolmarm (not verified) on May 30, 2014 9:46 pm
Trust me: this principal's action is the wave of the future - and also the death knell for Special Ed. in PA. Of all teaching disciplines, we Special Ed teachers have the highest rate of strokes, heart attacks and stress-related disorders. Our mortality rate is absolutely horrifying. There is a REASON why the field is so uninviting to a majority of young education professionals - and never moreso than now. (If I had a dollar for every Special Ed colleague I buried or visited in the hospital these past two decades, I'd be a wealthy woman.) Once they start dumping a bushel of "emotional support" kids (sometimes nefariously described as "dual diagnosis') and their 60 page IEP's on already-overworked elementary school teachers, the proverbial dung will absolutely hit the fan. But worse still are the prospects for the secondary system. Can you imagine telling a prospective education major who is concentrating in a demanding discipline like Mathematics or Chemistry or Physics or a Foreign Language that he/she must also secure a Special Education credential? When they stop laughing and pick themselves up off the floor, these never-to-be-teachers will bolt right through the nearest exit and into a much higher-paying lab or actuary office or interpreter's position. (Way to go, Harrisburg - your brilliance and forethought in this matter is simply awe-inspiring.) Your daughter has my deepest sympathies, Maxi. And also my envy. Because once a teacher HAS secured a Special Ed credential, he/she is officially chained to this "Area of Greatest Need' FOREVER. No matter how many OTHER certs they may have, they will turn old and gray and wrinkled (like me) before they are able to get the hell out of Special Ed. (It's like a roach trap: you can get in very easily, but it's next-to-impossible to get free.) So before she does anything, advise your daughter to think over her options VERY CAREFULLY. And I'll keep her in my prayers.
Submitted by maximootoo on May 30, 2014 10:37 pm
You said it all. It's so sad for the future of our educational system. Thank you for keeping her in your prayers. I fear that she will need all the prayers she can get.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 11:26 pm
PFT "leaders" let members down once again. Many teachers have been laid off with more seniority last year and 2011 because they lacked dual certifications . The PFT ,like all other teacher's unions have done never got clarification on this dual cert BS. Once again, the officials at the PFT failed us and the PFT officers still sit idle at 1816 Chestnut St., enjoying the relaxed job they have ,while we struggle daily. The PFT officials are the ones to blame for much of what is going on now for not doing anything substantial for many,many years. Currently, we have all these issues brewing.No hope in sight as Jordan ,Harris, Steinberg, Kempin, Kirsch, and Weingarten are at the helm. Jerry Jordan should go down as worst union president ever as well as Weingarten and Kirsch. Let them know that at emails below.
Submitted by maximootoo on May 31, 2014 8:32 am
I already did e-mail the above so called "leaders" & recieved no response from any of them. I can't imagine going thru this kind of bs every year wondering if you will get laid off, be force transferred. You are at the mercy of some ineffective principals who maybe have never taught a class but think they know everything about teaching.
Submitted by sparky (not verified) on May 31, 2014 6:23 am
It's not really the wave of the future. This has been going on for years but is now being used as a weapon of choice by principals to get rid of teachers and bring in the ones they want. It is another end-run around seniority. Two years ago, it was a fiasco when many, many teachers were forced out of their schools and then had to pick positions which required dual certs. The district had to emergency certs while teachers took the Praxis. Teachers started in September teaching subjects they had no qualification, certification or training in. This should be stopped.
Submitted by Fed Up Schoolmarm (not verified) on May 31, 2014 9:24 am
In a ghastly way,Sparky, it HAS been stopped - for something much worse. In the state of Pennsylvania, you can no longer be issued a supplementary credential on the basis of having passed a Praxis exam in a particular subject area. Now you have to complete all the coursework. Not many mid-career teachers that I know are willing to return to school for another year or two to add yet another cert to their regular credential - and particularly not a Special Ed cert, Considering the colossal downside to holding this particular credential (the unbelievable stress, the never-ending paperwork, the proliferation of mentally disturbed/violent pupils, the constant verbal and physical assaults, the extreme difficulty of getting OUT of the field, etc.), I predict that all these bright young "dual cert" teachers with their newly minted diplomas will have the life expectancy of kamikaze pilost once they're dumped into urban classrooms with 25 "regular" kids and 15 "learning support" kids with enormous IEP's and severe behavioral issues. It would almost be amusing to watch if it weren't so obscene.
Submitted by maximootoo on May 31, 2014 10:11 am
You are so right. I cannot imagine those poor teachers having to teach 25 "regular" & 15 "ls" students. It is obscene.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on June 1, 2014 3:39 pm
Fed Up Schoolmarm, IEP teams are given a lot of autonomy to determine the IEPs and placements of students. For the most part, this is a good thing. However, in some cases, students receive certain services or placements in order to appease parents and avoid lawsuits. It's a trade-off between giving parents what they want in order to keep them happy, or deal with the likes of lawyers like Michael Basch. Another issue is that while legally, special education services are not supposed to remediate issues related to socioeconomic status or parenting problems, this often ends up happening. This is particularly true with students who have emotional disturbance. Some of the students with emotional disturbance or severe behavior problems act the way that they do because of poor parenting. Perhaps some have been the victims of abuse and/or neglect. However, it's hard to prove that the ED or behavior problems are not due to a disability so the students end up receiving special education services.
Submitted by Fed Up Schoolmarm (not verified) on June 1, 2014 9:17 pm
So true, Education Grad. Placement decisions made by those of us who actually have to DEAL with kids with monstrous behaviors are customarily overruled by higher-ups looking to appease a parent/lawyer/educational activist/whatever - or granted as "favors" ("I'll put this little hellion into School A, and to make up for it, I'll give School A those extra desks it needs.) NEVER are the concerns of the hellion's teacher taken into account. NO WONDER no one wants to come into this field! NO WONDER the state of Pennsylvania has to FORCE education grads into obtaining special ed credentials. NO WONDER that - like a bucket with a large hole in the bottom - no matter how many brand new grads are poured into the field, the epic attrition rate guarantees an increasingly dire shortage. I'd actually go further than you, and say that 95% or so of pupils with emotional issues are that way because of horrendous home situations - but I must frankly admit that I no longer care. I'm all compassioned out after being cursed, threatened, spit at, bitten, kicked, slapped,punched in the face, etc. for several years. I am not a psychotherapist, a mental health counselor, a policeman or a martial arts expert. I am a TEACHER - and I am sick to death of District administrators who haven't a clue what that means.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 10:46 pm
What I said was " Thank you for refusing to accept the budget". I honestly do not remember calling their refusal a positive step. I was careful in my wording because I know their intent is to privatize as many schools and services as possible. Their refusal to accept the budget was a good decision compared to approving it. I continue to raise questions and they continue to refuse to respond except for Chairman Green saying "Please continue with your testimony". I mentioned Transformation schools (like W.D. Kelley and Blaine) and asked what their next experiment will be? I asked what a Contract Shool is and got Green's standard response (once Dr. Hite nudged him to pay attention and respond). The more I think about their refusal to approve the budget, the more I wonder who they consulted with prior to the meeting. Remember these folks are accountable to the the mayor and to the governor,not to us. We need to continue paying close attention to what they say and what they do. Karel Kilimnik
Submitted by aonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 10:09 pm
None of their body language gave one any reason to believe that eny of the SRC members have been "transformed" so I was troubled to hear all the praise heaped on the for refusing to adopt the budget. I am just waiting for their next creppy move. They move in lickstep with the governor and the mayor. Don't be naive. This city is in grave trouble.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 11:05 pm
Can a principal hire and site select new teachers due to vacancies at your school, then decide they don't like you ( you have the most years at your school) and force transfer you, not give you a position or get you laid off if there becomes layoffs. Btw, I'm not in any trouble and I get good observations, but my principal told me, he's not sure what position I'll be next year. I hate all this worry.
Submitted by maximootoo on May 30, 2014 6:01 pm
Yes, the principal can do anything he wants according to SDP. My daughter just went thru this, She is being force transferred after 6 years at Mayfair along with 8 other teachers b/c the principal has decided that he wants his teachers to be dual certified in Special Ed. Luckily she went on 3 site selection interviews & was offered all 3 but she sent in 16 applications. She would have preferred to stay at Mayfair but this may be what is coming for all teachers. It has been an awful worrisome May. Good luck to you.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 12:15 am
As the saying goes, "The chickens have come home to roast." The whole strategy for the last five years or more has been to demonize the public schools and starve them of resources in order to make charters appealing to parents. Those promoting privatization have been successful beyond their wildest dreams. One problem! The rest of the state is ready to write off all schools in Philadelphia and let us sink because they have accepted this spin. The successful demonizing of all Philadelphia schools has led to a disaster which is threatening the future of the city. Even the charters will not be able to survive in this environment. All the corporate and hedge fund vultures have no one but themselves to blame. But I'm sure they will fly off and find other enterprises to pick over and destroy.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 10:05 am
Approve the budget with recorded objections. Then the next morning the NAACP, PFT, and Dr. Hite need to take it to federal court. The state has created a system that radically increases social inequality through the very educational system meant to create social mobility. Pennsylvania already has a disparity between educational funding for White and African American students of over 10%, one of the highest (if not the highest) disparities in the nation. Also, Philadelphia's funding per student is lower than any of the other largest 10 cities in the nation. Also, the funding is up to half of surrounding suburban funding per student. This budget would allow a "reasonable" argument to be easily made and substantiated based legally on inadequate funding for students of color and students with special needs. The argument needs to be extended to funding inequality to schools serving communities in chronic poverty. The federal rulings would form concrete expectations that would finally require significant funding from the city and state on constitutional grounds.
Submitted by Helen Gym on May 30, 2014 11:56 am

The Notebook missed an important and critical context to the actions of Dr. Hite and the SRC. The community has been the one leading the call to denounce the budget, to redo the budget, and to call for accountability on immoral budget documents. In the last week, people have responded with anger, marches and calls for funding following the horrible death of a 7 yo at Jackson Elementary. Parents United has filed 800 complaints from 90 different schools on damages of inadequate funding. Some of the city's most respected principals have publicly testified that the budget cannot sustain safe, much less educational, environments for children. The day before the SRC meeting, the Working Families Party, the PFT, PCAPS and communities delivered 40,000 signatures to abolish the SRC.

Dr Hite did not act alone. He was acting upon the call of parents, students, and staff. I see this as not a surprise move by the SRC/District but as a significant community victory. If there is any surprise, it should be that the long distant, far too quiet SRC, finally stood up and backed their Supt., their staff, and heeded the community call to put the onus on our elected officials, not on children and school families. 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 12:16 pm
Helen I commend the community organizing but isn't this essentially the same thing that happened last year when Hite refused to open Schools on time without funding? The state has a billion dollar budget deficit coming into this second half of the year, a republican congress, and SDP wants 95 million from the Union. What about the refusal to adopt the budget going to change those dynamics? i am not being a smart ass about this what is really different about this and how could this play out for getting more resources knowing the real context? I think Torch's article speaks to the dangers to the District which are while this may feel like a victory now its just making a larger case that the District is not fiscally sustainable and there needs to be radical reform that will not be to the liking of many in the ed activist community. I think just like the Reformers would have said two years ago they had clearly won the momentum of the ed activist community in recent months could be a less real than it feels.
Submitted by Lisa Haver on May 30, 2014 2:17 pm
Please take this from Helen's comment: fighting back works. There are victories. The parents at Steel refused to be treated like they didn't count, they organized and fought back, and they won. And all the credit in the world to them: they were there last night to keep fighting for their school, and to support the Munoz-Marin parents and teachers. Don't use the "it's all decided anyway, there is no point in going to an SRC meeting" excuse. What happened last night was a result of all the visits to City Hall, to Harrisburg, to Council offices, and because people have been marching in the streets at least once a week. It happened because people came every month to speak out at SRC meetings about the "institutionalized child abuse", as Alison MdDowell put it, that is being perpetrated upon our children. There is a some well-deserved skepticism and mistrust about what Dr. Hite and Chairman Green did last night. But if you were there or watched it, the speakers who thanked them also repeated the message that Green and Hite must continue to show that kind of leadership. Green and Hite are going to have to put aside political connections and considerations for the sake of the students. That means the SRC commissioners are going to have to defy the politicians who appointed them if necessary. Green is going to have to show that he is not afraid to publicly demand that the Governor come up with the money needed to save our schools. That is when we will really know what last night meant.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 3:52 pm
In one month we will know. If this devastation of public schools is immoral now, it will be immoral then. What will the SRC do then?
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 30, 2014 4:45 pm
I agree Lisa. I am reading it similarly to Helen. I see signs that the advocacy community is having a persuasive effect upon Dr. Hite and the SRC members. They know that many of the advocates are right in what we say and do. Dr. Hite may be a Broad graduate, but that does not mean that he is wed to that dogma. His life's experience and his conscience will prevail. I know that inside him he does have the courage to reject his Broad teachings and the politics of destruction, and I believe he will do so in the not too distant future. Some day I would love to have a friendly conversation with him about that, and if the right time and place arises for me to ask him that question, I assure you that I will.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 10:45 pm
Lisa you didn't answer my overall question. How does this change the dynamics at the state level? I don't discount activism nor the victories you all have had in the last few months but this protests don't mean much at the state level right? When they have a billion dollar whole where is that money coming from? How do we create a real funding base for SDP when budget problems have been ongoing for years? I am not saying it is not possible but how is your work changing the dynamics that have been ongoing for years? The Steele parents are still at a poor performing under resourced and managed school. How are you helping families organize to improve the school on the ground not simply asking for more resources? Just because you have weakened the reformers doesn't mean you have real answers that will deal with the districts problems or help kids. The district doesn't control the majority of its dollars because of debt, pensions, charter payments, salaries. We have a weak principle base, and because we pay the least we have some very weak teachers and instruction in the city is broken made incohesive by fads and poor resources. SDP is a broken institution that even if it had the resources it wouldn't manage them well. All these things are fixable but I don't think the activists or reformers have shown us how to actually deal with the real issues on the ground that will make it better for students.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 30, 2014 11:18 pm
Anonymous, You fall into the trap of thinking that just because the pay is lower for principals and teachers in the SDP than in other districts, that the lower pay equates with lower quality personnel. The SDP has many, many talented people. There are many, many excellent teachers in this school district who go unrecognized.
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on May 30, 2014 12:23 pm
I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Hite is Broad educated, through and through and Green has never been a friend of the SPD. Are they grandstanding? You bet! Next move will possibly be another attack on the union because "we" are the only ones who have not given back. No thanks. Their motives are suspect and always come with strings. I am NOT fooled "Bill"
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 4:06 pm
EXACTLY!! Please don't be fooled into thinking this is some kind of victory. It is a calculated ploy. Don't trust what they say, trust what they DO. And, we won't know what they do until the end of June. Mark my words, it won't be good. I hope Helen is not so naive.
Submitted by Vivian Rodriguez (not verified) on May 30, 2014 1:18 pm
I was at the meeting and saw that the budget included was to save money and payments obligations to charter school. I was surprised that they didn't think of making cut to the Renaissance Charter Schools that the SDP currently funds. Their December 2013 Progress Report shows that most of those charter schools are failing. They should void those contracts due to lack of compliance and rehire SDP laid off staff. For sure, they should not approve any other Renaissance Charter School like the are ready to do to Luis Munoz-Marin. They are also willing to pay extra money to Aspira, one of the charter operators that didn't make the progress expected in the area of Reading during the 4 years at that the have been operating Stetson, a current Renaissance Charter School.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on May 31, 2014 7:40 am
After the meeting, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan issued a statement calling the SRC's decision "the only moral option ... an acknowledgement that our schools and educators simply have no more to give." What a laugh that is. These so called "educators" are the ONLY ones who have not given. Every other union in the district granted concessions. The taxpayers of Philadelphia have had our taxes raised three times to help the district. The PFT stands alone in not contributing anything. They will have to be forced to contribute "For the children."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2014 12:17 pm
Sigh. Seriously??? PFT has given millions in cash, forgone pay raises for years, had their step pay removed, and it goes on and on (paying for classroom supplies!). What have YOU done???????? Didn't think you had an answer.
Submitted by taxpayer (not verified) on June 1, 2014 6:49 pm
The PFT made a LOAN that I am sure is expected to be paid back. A pay freeze is not a sacrifice, especially not in this economy. The PFT needs to take a PAY CUT just like all the other unions did. Everyone else has contributed, including the taxpayers. Now it is the PFT's turn.
Submitted by inthetrenches (not verified) on June 1, 2014 7:12 pm
PFT gave back $38 million.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2014 8:46 pm
Please don't feed the troll.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2014 2:40 pm
You are absolutely correct taxpayer. Ti is time for the PFT to take a pay cut. Other unions in the SDP has forgone pay raise, had their step pay removed and have taken a pay cut.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2014 3:38 pm
OOOOK...if you want no one he wants a future in education to teach in Philadelphia.

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