This Thursday, the SRC is set to vote on a school budget that strips away all pretense of a child-centered, education-focused mission for public education yet OKs $27 million for contracts for cyber charters and the testing giant Pearson Inc. Join parents, PCAPS, community members and students to send a clear message that a PARENT & COMMUNITY VISION is the only thing standing in the way of the SRC’s corporate reform agenda for Philadelphia’s public schools.
Sometimes this is what it means to be a Philadelphia public school parent. It’s not enough that we take care of our children and our families, our personal and professional lives, and volunteer and support our schools. It means that in times of crisis, we pick up the mantle of democracy and set the priorities straight for our elected and appointed officials. That time is now.
A stunning budget crisis of unimaginable proportions and a District and city and state misled by all the wrong priorities has us facing down perhaps the most significant challenge to public education we’ve seen in the 12 years of a state takeover that once promised Philadelphia parents the world. Every single school in this city, from the most struggling to our most elite magnet school, has been impacted by a devastating budget decision that has stripped away the most fundamental elements of schooling: No sports, arts or music. No counselors, librarians, assistant principals, deans, or secretaries. No allotment for books and supplies.
This is why Parents United for Public Education created an Action Toolkit to help parents get organized and politicized around our schools. We are focused specifically on the city and on major structural funding efforts to help stabilize and re-invest in schools. We are also helping connect parents with statewide efforts to improve the education budget.Continue reading “NEW! Action Toolkit on school budget crisis”
- The District must immediate re-do its budget. It is irresponsible for City leaders and city residents to support $60 million in funds when there is no indication of how those funds will be spent. The District chose to zero out essential supports in schools while approving an $11 million contract with Pearson and outsourcing a $15 million cyber school start-up just last week alone. Playing brinksmanship games with mandated essential services and throwing our schools into chaos should not be supported by City Council. The District must submit a new budget with the $180 million to demonstrate how the money will be spent responsibly, and even without the full amount, how the District will guarantee a safe and adequate school environment.
- A portion of the $60 million must rely on significant contribution increases from the state. While the District has chosen to settle for a mere $120 million, the unified message from city and District leaders must be an incremental reinstatement of the Rendell-era education funding formula. Pennsylvania is one of only three states in the nation without an education funding formula. Without this funding formula, not only has Philadelphia lost more than $300 million in state support, but the level of inequity between Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs has grown dramatically. As of last year, EducationLawCenter reported a $78,000 difference between a Philadelphia classroom and surrounding districts.
Parents across the city are mobilizing for action around next week’s City Council hearings on the District budget. We want a powerful presence and voice for more school funding, but also that the SRC must invest those dollars in the classrooms and teaching of District-managed public schools – NO blank check!Continue reading “Get organized! City Council hearings on District budget”
Parents United for Public Education has won its state Right To Know request to gain public access to the list of 60 schools identified by the Boston Consulting Group for closure and to the firm’s criteria for school closings — a request for information the District has consistently denied to the public.
Last spring, the Boston Consulting Group came under intense criticism for a controversial plan that promoted school closings, massive charter expansion, and privatization of key functions within the District. Under its multimillion-dollar contract with the William Penn Foundation, BCG agreed to provide the foundation with a number of “contract deliverables,” one of which was identifying 60 schools for closure. The “BCG list” was referenced by former Superintendent Tom Knudsen in public statements, but District officials had refused to release the list stating that it was an internal document and therefore protected from public review.Continue reading “Parents United wins open records case on BCG list of school closings”