Complaint: SRC Violated Pennsylvania Sunshine Act

As anticipated, public school activists have filed a complaint against the School Reform Commission, charging the SRC violated the state’s Sunshine Act when it unilaterally canceled the teachers’ contract last month.

The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and member Lisa Haver filed the complaint. Though the SRC meeting that canceled the teachers’ contracts was done on a Monday morning with little notice, the SRC published an ad in the Inquirer and on Philly.com that Sunday. The state’s Sunshine Act requires public meetings to be advertised at least 24 hours in advance.

But the lawsuit says those advertisements did not fulfill the Sunshine Act’s requirements.

Read more »

WATCH: New Video Shows SRC Member Telling Kids They Are “Probably in Failing Schools”

A new video of a member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission clearly shows her telling protesting students that they are “probably in failing schools.” Sylvia Simms has previously denied the accusation from the students.

Last month, students protested a screening of the pro-charter school drama Won’t Back Down Simms hosted. After students interrupted the screening with clapping and chanting, they said Simms told them they “belong in jail” and that they’re “probably in failing schools.”

Read more »

Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools to Sue Bill Green, SRC Over Teacher Contracts

Bill_Green_2010-jeff-meade-940x540

Almost one month after Bill Green and his controversial School Reform Commission voted unanimously and unilaterally to cancel the labor contract for the approximately 15,000 teachers in the Philadelphia public school system, it looks like the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and schools activist Lisa Haver, one of the founders of the alliance, are taking Green, the SRC and the School District of Philadelphia to court. Read more »

Council Calling SRC, Teachers Back to Bargaining Table

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

It’s not easy to get unanimity from the Philadelphia City Council. But every single member has signed on to sponsor a resolution asking the School Reform Commission and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to call a truce in their battle and head back to the negotiating table.

“Everybody knows in our city, you’ve got to negotiate,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who introduced the resolution, then got each of her colleagues to sign on as sponsor. “Our school system’s in too much trouble not to negotiate to resolve these issues.”

Read more »

Bill Green Responds to Helen Gym: Honest School Dialogue Requires All the Facts

gym-green-schools-940x540

From left: Bill Green (Jeff Meade, via Wikimedia Commons) | School District headquarters (Jeff Fusco) | Helen Gym (Alex Hogan, Flickr

In criticizing our decision to begin charging teachers for health benefits and directing the $44 million annual savings to schools, Helen Gym makes an important point: Unless the School Reform Commission is open to and responsive to public input, it cannot meaningfully improve public education in Philadelphia (“SRC’s Contract Move Isn’t About Shared Sacrifice—It’s Looting.”).

I share the value Ms. Gym places on winning “the public trust,” but she considerably weakens her credibility with the sloppiness and bad faith of her attack on the SRC.

Read more »

SRC’s Contract Move Isn’t About Shared Sacrifice — It’s Looting

gym-green-schools-940x540

From left: Bill Green (Jeff Meade, via Wikimedia Commons) | School District headquarters (Jeff Fusco) | Helen Gym (Alex Hogan, Flickr)

Recently, I visited my brother-in-law at Radnor High School and was privileged to see him teach his ninth-grade English/civics class. When I walked in, his students were engaged in a debate about Plato and the notion of dissent versus rule of law in Athenian society. The students had finished reading John Stuart Mill and were getting their first papers back for revision. It was October 2nd.

A few days later, I attended a parent meeting at Central High School, one of the city’s premier institutions. Dozens of ninth graders had spent their school year with substitute teachers who changed every week. The substitutes were put in place to relieve teachers leading classrooms with 40, 50, or even more students. For these ninth graders, school didn’t really start until October 8th, when permanent teachers were finally assigned to them.

This is what a teacher’s contract was supposed to prevent.

And it’s why the School Reform Commission’s move last week to tear up that contract is about far more than the dishonest suggestion of “shared sacrifice” and health care contributions.

Helen Gym and Bill Green Try to Find Common Ground (or Not) on Education in Philadelphia

helen-gym-bill-green-coversation-issue-940x540

He’s chairman of the School Reform Commission. She’s co-founder of Parents United for Public Education. They have very different ideas about how to run the district. In mid-September — a month before the SRC voided the district’s contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers — Bill and Helen sat down for a lengthy chat. Here, their (abridged) conversation about trying to see eye to eye.

PHILLY MAG: Helen, what do you think the advocate’s role is when dealing with the SRC? Is it to convince them? Is it to pressure them? How do you attempt to influence the SRC’s decisions?

BILL: Sometimes she calls me and yells at me, and sometimes we …

HELEN: He loves it.

BILL: … have a very cordial conversation.

HELEN: I’m his voice of whatever. I think about a lot about this question of who really has power. When we’re looking at large, complicated systems … it makes me think a lot about how we listen to one another, and how we define power and decision-making and authority, and in some cases I think that we haven’t always had governing authorities that are really aware of, responsive to or reflective of the things that parents and community members care very deeply about. I think we should agree that we’re in an extremely undemocratic governance structure. The School Reform Commission is a state takeover body, it’s an unelected body, and — this isn’t, you know, personal or anything like that.
Read more »

23 Best Signs From the Philadelphia Teachers’ Protest

yousuck2

Thousands of teachers jammed Broad Street before a meeting of the School Reform Commission late Thursday afternoon, protesting the SRC’s unilateral cancellation of teachers’ contracts last week.

Speakers at the protest spent a few hours railing against the SRC, Bill Green, Gov. Tom Corbett, and SRC member Sylvia Simms — who students said told them they “belong in jail” at a movie screening Simms hosted Wednesday night. There were many signs supporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, Gov. Corbett’s opponent in next month’s election.

The speakers also had strong words for the counter-protesters hired by the Commonwealth Foundation, who were also demonstrating near the front of the School District building.

Read more »

Students: School Reform Commission Member Told Us ‘You Belong in Jail’

Philadelphia School Reform Commission member Sylvia Simms lashed out at student protesters at a movie screening last night. As seen in the above video posted to YouTube by Waleed Shahid, students clapped and interrupted the screening with chants of “Philly is a union town” and “The SRC has got to go.”

The students — part of Philly Students Union, a student-led group advocating for better school conditions — disrupted a film screening hosted by Simms. Those students say Simms told them “y’all probably go to failing schools.” Al Dia reports she also said, “You belong in jail.”

Read more »

« Older Posts