Opinions of a Philly Public School Parent and Education Activist

In education news, Students, Parents and Educators can sleep a little longer and not just because it’s summer break.  PFT members agreed to a contract that was ratified by the SRC on Tuesday June 20, 2017. While the District has taken four painfully, long, destructive years to propose any semblance of a satisfactory contract, it’s considered the first real step toward progress in a city plagued by poverty, trauma and oppression.

One parent shared,  “Education being the great equalizer, couldn’t be further from reality considering how inaccessible, a quality education experience has become at the hands of this School Reform Commission.” Many Educators would agree with Parents sharing how the lack of a contract appeared to be the catalyst used to close, sell off and privatize Schools in the city’s most impoverished, underserved, communities of color. Meanwhile qualified, passionate Educators were forced to flee or retire from the district due to the intentional, and often detrimental, conditions they faced without any form of financial stability from a contract agreement.

Also on the radar of Education advocates, “36 Million reasons why the SRC has got to go”!

During the June School Reform Commission meeting, students, parents and educators teamed up with Education Law Center as well as the Public Interest Law Center, to expose, deter and protest the notion that Catapult Learning, a Contractor identified by the district, should be considered the provider for Resolution IU-7.   That resolution was buried among 145 Resolutions. The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, (APPS) which regularly testifies, reports on resolutions and targets contrived by the Supremely Ridiculous Cohorts (disguised as the SRC), shared with Parents and Philadelphia’s Education Watch Dogs, their understanding of how the SRC planned to give away 36 million to Catapult Learning, while further segregating our Special Needs community.

Resolution IU-7 attempted to create a Privatized Educational setting for Students with “low incident, emotional disabilities” This segregated setting would receive public dollars to operate in an existing public school building. The District  – once again seeking “zero” input from Parents and the impacted Special needs Communities –  dodged sharing why the unidentified building and location would be paid for by taxpayers and operated by an unknown contractor containing our most vulnerable population. Because it was exposed at the very public, heated SRC meeting IU-7 was temporarily removed from consideration.

This would-be IU-7 “experiment,” comes on the heels of the closing of a notorious private facility, Wordsworth, which taxpayers may recall hearing about after the death of a young student there made the nightly news. The news reported that a distraught emotionally challenged student barricaded himself in his room when staff announced they would search students’ rooms, and when staff forced their way in, the student was placed in a headlock resulting in his tragic and unnecessary death. The state ordered the closing of the facility and the District proposes to solve this displacement by continuing to ignore the rights of the special needs population that specify the least restrictive environment for their education.

During the SRC’s last public meeting, as the Contract was being considered in negotiations, Philadelphians called upon the Commission to abolish itself and shared its strongest desire yet for a return to local control. The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools APPS, along with parents, taxpayers and impacted students held a vigil displaying tombstones for each of the 39 Schools closed at the hands of Dr. Hite and his rubber stampers at the SRC. Stay tuned for more updates from the opinion of a Philadelphia, Public School Graduate and Parent of Special needs twins currently in the throws of a Public School Educational experience.

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Tonya Bah

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