April 12, 2016 |
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission has to go. It has to go because, no matter how much we respect the commissioners who serve this body, the fate of the schools should be decided by elected officials accountable to the people and the communities they serve. It has to go, because it has clearly failed to deliver the financial stability that justified its creation 15 years ago (an impossible task to begin with but one the SRC has accepted as its charge, nevertheless). It has to go because, as John Wister Elementary School shows, it is ripping apart some of the very communities on whose behalf the commissioners are supposed to make their decisions.
March 26, 2016 |
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission on Thursday approved the broad outlines of a proposed $2.8 billion budget for next year that, while anticipating it will have to pay more for charters and pensions, does not see the district's having to ask City Council for new revenue. In a briefing before the SRC meeting, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said the district would ask Harrisburg for more money in the fiscal year that begins July 1, but for the first time in years the city will not be tapped for more.
March 20, 2016 |
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission has quietly settled one of four lawsuits stemming from a controversial $7.5 million no-bid camera contract backed by then-Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman. With no advance notice and no public discussion, the SRC unanimously agreed Thursday to pay $725,000 to Francis X. Dougherty, a former top administrator who lost his job in 2011 after he revealed the no-bid deal to the Inquirer. Dougherty sued the district, and last year, a federal jury found that he had been wrongfully suspended and fired for disclosing the contract to provide surveillance cameras in troubled schools.
March 4, 2016 |
IN A BID to undo last month's devastating state Supreme Court ruling that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission has no power to suspend parts of the state school code, the SRC has asked the court to reconsider its decision. The SRC said in documents filed with the court Monday that the decision "invalidated an essential tool provided by the legislature to address the School District of Philadelphia's ongoing financial and educational crisis at a time when the district is struggling to carry out its constitutional obligation to provide a thorough and efficient education" to city public school students.
February 25, 2016
It's time to begin the hard work necessary to replace the Philadelphia School Reform Commission with a viable school board. The SRC's reason to exist was all but buried last week when the state Supreme Court ruled that the law that created its extraordinary powers nearly two decades ago was unconstitutional. Without the authority granted in the 1998 law allowing the state to take over the School District in 2001, the SRC won't be able to circumvent its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to assign staff and change work rules based on what it deems necessary.
February 20, 2016 |
Does the new reality handed him this week by the state Supreme Court trouble William R. Hite Jr.? "Absolutely, I'm worried about what it means," the Philadelphia school superintendent said Thursday night of a court ruling this week striking down some of the special powers the School Reform Commission has used in times of crisis. "A lot of the tools that the governing body had have been removed. " The decision could affect how teachers are assigned, how schools are closed, and, most significant, how charter schools might grow.
February 18, 2016 |
On the day that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission approved three new charter schools, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling Tuesday that could have grave implications for the cash-strapped district's finances and operations for years to come. The court ruled that the SRC had no legal power to suspend portions of the state charter law and school code. The ruling strips the commission of extraordinary powers it believed it had - and used. It was too soon to say exactly what the fallout for the school system would be - district lawyers offered no official comment - but early indications were ominous.
February 2, 2016 |
WHEN Superintendent William Hite announced that he had changed his mind about placing John Wister Elementary School into the "Renaissance" program and turning it over to Mastery Charter Schools, the school community rejoiced. He cited new data that showed the school had made significant growth. But at last week's meeting, School Reform Commissioner Sylvia Simms introduced an eleventh-hour resolution, approved by the SRC, to override Hite's decision. The resolution had not been posted before the meeting, and Chairwoman Marjorie Neff denied requests from members of the public to comment before the vote.
January 24, 2016 |
Sylvia Simms rarely speaks publicly at School Reform Commission meetings. But nearly five hours into a contentious session on Thursday night, the former Philadelphia School District bus aide dropped a bombshell, offering a walk-on resolution that altered the fate of a struggling Germantown public school. "I have pent-up emotions about the way the district has allowed many of our schools in low-income neighborhoods to fail our students and their families," Simms said. "Families are literally crying for alternatives, and they have shown us by their choices that they are not pleased by the way we are educating their children.