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”

Must watch video: When private interests dictate public policy

Sabrina Stevens, AKA Teacher Sabrina, crashes a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which has promoted controversial laws nationwide like Parent Trigger and Stand Your Ground. What she says next speaks exactly to a host of situations in Philadelphia including the Boston Consulting Group:

“I see a a majority of private sector members in this body completely outweighing the democratically elected people who are supposed to be making our laws . . I also see a group of people who are not at all connected to public schools talking about issues that affect public schools . . I have a huge problem with how this process works. And I can tell you that those of us who have to live through these policies are not going to sit by quietly as you push this on other communities, other schools, and other students.”

The new “philanthropy”: private agendas vs. public interest

Jeremy Nowak is out as president of the William Penn Foundation. In light of his abrupt departure, deeper questions emerge about the role the foundation played under his tenure.

For months, Parents United for Public Education has raised questions about the Foundation’s role in funding and directing the work of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Two weeks ago we sent a letter to the William Penn Foundation and Boston Consulting Group asking them to respond to a legal analysis we commissioned from our lawyers at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, which argued that the Foundation’s unusual arrangement with the Boston Consulting Group may constitute lobbying.

In February, the Boston Consulting Group, a multinational corporation with an educational strategies division, arrived with the stated purpose of creating a District blueprint and a five year financial plan. Instead they parachuted into  Philadelphia with a polarizing agenda that called for mass charter expansion, closing dozens of schools, and forcing schools into education management networks.

While many know the plan was paid for by the William Penn Foundation, most people may not realize the significance of WPF contracting directly with BCG without the District being a party to the contract. Continue reading “The new “philanthropy”: private agendas vs. public interest”

Parents United’s City Council testimony on BCG

On Monday, Nov. 26th City Council hosted an education committee hearing on the Boston Consulting Group. Parents United co-founders Helen Gym, Gerald Wright and Cecelia Thompson waited four hours to testify and finally left around 5 p.m. with 15 people still on the schedule before us. Needless to say we were very disappointed that parents were placed at the end of the program. We’ve decided to post our testimony here. We’ll post more as we receive it!Continue reading “Parents United’s City Council testimony on BCG”

Do school closings save money?

For months, public and district officials have claimed that school closings are necessary if we’re going to address our fiscal crisis. After all, the District has threatened to close anywhere between 29-57 schools this year alone to close the financial hole. But do school closings actually save the District money?Continue reading “Do school closings save money?”