On Public Integrity and Our Ethics Complaint

Rebecca PoyourowA few months ago, I made the decision to sign on to a complaint filed with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics.  The complaint, signed by members of Parents United for Public Education, the NAACP, and the Philadelphia Home and School Council, was concerned with the William Penn Foundation’s financing of a private consulting group in order to drive the direction of our city’s public education policy.  Signing was a tough personal decision, and I weighed it for a long time before committing.  William Penn has funded and continues to fund many laudable institutions and initiatives in our city, which I and other Philadelphians use and appreciate.  Yet no institution, however worthy or powerful, should be above criticism.  And no individual should be excluded or intimidated from participating in a public process of shaping education policy—or denied the right to scrutinize the ethical or legal nature of actions taken in order to influence that process.Continue reading “On Public Integrity and Our Ethics Complaint”

SEPTA advertising: What’s your take?

Last week a number of parents and students were surprised to see this ad on their weekly student transpass:

(Photo: Parents United for Public Education)
(Photo: Parents United for Public Education)

This week the following ad appears on student transpasses:

(Photo: Parents United for Public Education)
(Photo: Parents United for Public Education)

And here’s next week’s ad:

SEPTA transpass3


A few media outlets have picked up on some concerns we raised on social media about the advertising. For clarification, this issue is not about the military but about advertising on School District approved materials for children as young as the age of 10. This concern would not apply if this were a SEPTA billboard or a poster on a bus. Student transpasses are specifically for children getting to and from school. What we are trying to clarify is SEPTA’s policy on student transpass advertising. What are the boundaries? Will SEPTA allow any advertising – junk food, music albums, sneakers? The military is designed for those over the age of 18. Does that mean children could be subjected to other 18+ advertising – alcohol, city casinos?

We deeply respect and honor military families in our community. However, those who feel that our asking questions is somehow an insult to military families are missing the point. Parents have a responsibility and a right to know what the standards are when things are geared specifically toward our children. We’re looking for clarification, not condemnation.
We want to know: What do you think?
Media coverage:


Top questions about school closings: “A year of turmoil and uncertainty”

(Photo: NewsWorks)
(Photo: NewsWorks)

(This post is being updated regularly as new information unfolds)

Read the complete list of school closings here.

This afternoon the district will announce the closing and consolidation of dozens of schools listed above, setting in motion a year of turmoil and uncertainty for thousands of families across the District. We are deeply concerned about the District’s ability to prioritize and re-invest in the District-managed neighborhood schools under its care. While past conversations have discussed facilities modernization and management, this conversation has been primarily on consolidation and closure with far too little mention of what additional resources will flow to schools.

We have significant questions and concerns about the list above:Continue reading “Top questions about school closings: “A year of turmoil and uncertainty””

Statement on pending school closings

(Photo: NewsWorks)
(Photo: NewsWorks)

In anticipation of tomorrow’s announcement of dozens of school closings, Parents United for Public Education posted this statement. We will be attending the PCAPS rally at the School District, 440 N. Broad Street, tomorrow at 4 p.m. The District will announce the school closings list at a 2 p.m. press conference.


Parents United statement on pending school closings

Parents United for Public Education believes that schools closings should be a public dialogue not a backroom deal. We believe that they should be part of a broader plan around facilities modernization with a clear eye toward strengthening the resources and opportunities for District-managed public schools. Toward that end, Parents United has worked consistently to focus attention on resources, investments and a broad participatory engagement process to transform, sustain and build quality public schools.

National studies have shown that Districts do not improve academically or financially through mass school closings. Community groups nationwide have formally complained that mass school closings have had disparate racial impact. The District has failed to demonstrate what it will do differently from other cities to address those concerns.

Continue reading “Statement on pending school closings”

Why we filed with the Ethics Board: The public deserves to know what’s happening here

PILCOP attorney Michael Churchill (far left), PHSC representative Rose Lentz (middle, blue shirt) and Philadelphia NAACP president J. Whyatt Mondesire join Parents United’s June Waters-Bey, Gerald Wright, Sabra Townsend, Rebecca Poyourow, and Helen Gym in a press conference outside the City’s Ethics Board offices. (Photo: Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia)

Yesterday, Parents United for Public Education, the Philadelphia Home and School Council and the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP filed a complaint with the City Ethics Board requesting an investigation into whether the Boston Consulting Group, private donors, and the William Penn Foundation acted as lobbyists and principals to influence policy in the School District of Philadelphia.

We did not make this decision easily or hastily. The William Penn Foundation has long been a positive force for philanthropy in the city. Before taking action, we requested a thorough legal analysis from the venerable Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. We arrived at our decision after months of observation and study around the murky activities of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the wealthy donors who funded them. Just a week before the District is expected to announce dozens of school closings which will throw our city into turmoil, we believe the public deserves to know the full influence of private money and access on decisions that impact us all.

Continue reading “Why we filed with the Ethics Board: The public deserves to know what’s happening here”