Accomplishments

This sign from last summer's Chicago Teachers Union strike defines why and how parents and teachers can align.  (Source: Associated Press)

A sign from the 2012 Chicago teachers strike captures the spirit of the struggle around our schools. (Source: Associated Press)

Since Spring 2006, Parents United for Public Education has provided a unique and vocal parent voice in the fight for full funding, responsible budgeting, and the establishment of equitable resources for every school. Our accomplishments include:

Funding

  • Organized parent groups for responsible and improved City and State funding for schools, and organized vocal parent opposition to slashed school budgets ;
  • In 2013-2014, Parents United organized a campaign to file 800+ formal complaints with the PA Dept. of Education by parents from over 90 different schools stating that underfunded Philadelphia schools violated the PA Constitution around a “thorough and efficient” education for all students. The state restored $45 million to the schools a little over a month after our campaign launched, bringing back hundreds of staff and special education services.
  • Successfully lobbied the Philadelphia Parking Authority to commit to funding the Philadelphia Public Schools. Since 2007, the Parking Authority has delivered over $50 million to the public schools. Prior to Parents United’s campaign, the Parking Authority had failed to deliver a single dollar since a state takeover in 2004.
  • In 2007 we successfully lobbied City Council for over $30 million/year in permanent new funds, including overriding a threatened mayoral veto to support the Public Education Reinvestment Act

Academic Reform

  • Restored 100s of staff  – including counselors, teachers, aides and administrators – and $15 million in special needs programs  based in part on hundreds of complaints filed by parents in 2013-2014 school year.
  • Reduced the number of split grade classrooms from 100 down to four in the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Successfully restored busing into FY12 budget, which had been targeted for cost savings. We built a partnership with parochial , charter and public schools with busing as a fundamental access to education concern.
  • In the FY10 budget, succeeded in establishing $50.5 million for reduced class size in grades K-3 district-wide and for counselors in schools;
  • In the FY09 budget, called upon the District to redo all its budgets to include an additional $18 million for reduced class size and art and music instruction;
  • In the FY08 budget, diverted $10 million for 100 teachers to eliminate split grades;
  • Established lower class size and art and music as “must haves” and made librarians, nurses and counselors top priorities for the School Reform Commission (2007);
  • Successfully lobbied to prohibit forced split grades as District policy;
  • Called for a “baseline” school budget that would guarantee quality and equity for all schools around staffing, programs and funds.

Accountability and Transparency

  • Succeeded in getting the District to post its list of vendor contracts on its web page (May 2013).
  • In December 2012, filed a city ethics complaint around lobbying against the William Penn Foundation and the Boston Consulting Group, which was hired by the WP Foundation to create a school restructuring plan with “contract deliverables” pre-determined, signed and agreed upon by only the Foundation and BCG. The contract deliverables included an agreement to schedule meetings with the SRC to specifically identify 60 schools for closure, expand charter school seats, and review and recommend private vendors for existing public contracts such as transportation.
  • Won open records appeals around school closings, contracting and communication between the SRC and Superintendent outside of public meetings.
  • Called for public accountability on major contracts resulting in renewed public scrutiny, most prominently an Accountability Agreement between City Hall, Harrisburg and the School District in Spring 2011, the reassessment of EMOs, alternative education, and charters, and the severing of the District’s food service contract with Aramark in fall 2007.
  • Eliminated a long-standing patronage system with the Bureau of Revision of Taxes by removing patronage employees from the District’s payroll in 2010. The City Controller’s office followed suit in the 2012-2013 school year.
  • In FY08 limited renewal of private managers to one year, reduced EMO management fees by one-third, and highlighted EMOs’ lack of services to English language learners and special education students;
  • Advocated to make school-by-school budget information publicly available on the District website;
  • Demanded a more transparent SRC process that resulted in evening meetings, more frequent hearings, online school budgets, and awareness of sunshine law violations;

Public Engagement

  • Raised an independent parent advocacy voice for quality public education;
  • Led the largest formal filing of complaints against the state for underfunding Philadelphia schools (2013-2014). More than 800 parents from 90+ schools filed formal complaints with the PA Dept. of Education within four months about a lack of services that allegedly violated the PA Constitution for a “thorough and efficient” education. This was the largest filing ever from a single district in a single year. In the previous year, 125 complaints had been filed statewide.
  • Organized and supported lobbying visits to City Council in each budget cycle.
  • Informed and engaged hundreds of parents citywide to take action at District, city and state levels on behalf of their public schools;
  • Develop parent leaders who have: testified at education hearings and commissions; set up education forums at their schools, met with elected officials, written letters to the editor, and acted as spokespeople for the media.
  • Called for community-based budget hearings which have been held annually since January 2008;
  • Led a June 2012 no confidence vote by over 50 parent groups that raised attention to District budget cuts and lobbying from third party entities.
  • Spearheaded a June 2007 no confidence vote by parents groups that precipitated top leadership changes, restored 100 teachers, and eliminated split grades as District policy.
  • Led active media campaigns to build public will and bring attention to public schools.