Parents United for Public Education will seek to work with any and all appointees to the School Reform Commission. As parents, however, we believe the appointment of any new individuals to the Commission does not change the fundamentally flawed nature of an entity which is ultimately beholden to politics over effective governance.
The approval process for SRC commissioners is conducted in back rooms and through private conversations with select state senators. It is neither open nor transparent. SRC commissioners have no clear statements of qualifications or responsibilities and all too often exhibit a stunning lack of awareness of their obligations as public servants.
In the past year, the School Reform Commission oversaw mass school closings, which the District now acknowledges resulted in too many students ending up in schools worse than the ones they had previously attended. They have failed to deal responsibly with ethics and transparency problems. More than a year ago an independent advisory body drafted a list of recommendations to improve ethics and transparency in the district; to this date, the SRC has failed to even make the recommendations public despite calls to do so by the watchdog group Committee of Seventy. They are dealing with the fallout of one of the largest test cheating scandals in the nation. More than 800 formal complaints of insufficient education have been filed with the state of Pennsylvania, which the SRC shows a remarkable lack of curiosity in investigating (though it should be noted that Councilman Bill Green was a supporter in this area). And they have consistently failed to stabilize funding for the District despite, or perhaps even because of, their political appointments.
Governor Corbett shows little interest in the actual conditions of Philadelphia schools or in the problematic ways the SRC is handling the business of governance. It seems perfectly apropos therefore, that the Governor ran away from an opportunity to face the consequences of his actions, and instead sequestered himself away from the students and families he governs to appoint new commissioners to a body he’s neglected. As a result, the SRC continues to fail to live up to its once stated promise. It has failed the students of Philadelphia, the staff and families of the School District, and the City overall. It is time for an elected school board that represents the children of the District, their families and the public interest.