Time for Democracy in the Public Schools of Philadelphia

A reader responds to Lisa Haver’s post about the urgency of abolishing the authoritarian and unaccountable School Reform Commission, and also corrects my statement about “restoring democratic control.” An elected board could not do any worse than the appointed SRC, which has run the public schools into the ground and led the way to their demolition.

“I used to teach in Philadelphia, before my move to NC. I can vouch for everything Lisa Haver wrote and more. The SRC has systematically starved the public schools while making sure that the charters are favored in all things. It takes serious corruption (and the public revelation thereof) to get a charter school closed down, but any hint that a public school might be a “failure” and it will be a target of conversion before you can say “Jack Robinson”.

“The SRC has no accountability to the public, and virtually none even to the politicians who technically appoint its members (the governor and the mayor.) They are free to pursue whatever “reform” they want and even have exemption from the School Code (that is, the laws passed by the legislature that govern all other schools in the state) if they want to execute a policy that the law does not normally allow. This was the body that was going to fix the financial mess the schools were in, yet they have been party to their hand-picked superintendents sending the district into deeper and deeper financial crises as the years go by.

“One thing that does need a bit of correction (or, at least, clarification) from Lisa’s article is that it inadvertently leaves the impression that the school district needs to be returned to popular control. Unfortunately, the district has never had a democratically elected school board, not since its founding way back in 1850. Originally, the board was appointed by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas, then by the mayor until the 2001 state takeover. It is long past time that the founding city of American democracy had a democratically elected school board that might just look out for the city’s public schools instead of narrow partisan or private interests.”

from novemoore http://ift.tt/2reuuzO


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s