This is a cynical, right-wing and market-driven plan to privatize public education, to force thousands of economically disadvantaged families to select from an under-funded hodge-podge of EMO and charter-company-run schools and to convert thousands of professional and family-sustaining positions into low-paying, high-turnover jobs. -- PFT Pres. Jerry Jordan
He's right. The complete dismantling of the nation's 5th-largest school district and getting rid of collective-bargaining and union rights for teachers has long been the dream of the city's corporate reformers. Taken over by the state and placed under the control of the so-called School Reform Commission, Philly's racially-segregated and underfunded school system was first looted and then sold off school-by-school to companies like Edison and other private charter operators.What Paul Vallas started a decade ago with his give-away of 40 public schools is nearly a fait accompli with the new Blueprint For Transforming Philadelphia Public Schools. The Blueprint includes a proposal to divvy up city schools among “achievement networks” including charter school operators and other outside organization.
Vallas actually began the process during his tenure as Chicago's mayoral-appointed schools CEO with the so-called Renaissance 2010 plan. Before he was fired by Mayor Daley, Vallas had succeeded in replacing teacher-led, highly autonomous small schools with privately managed charter schools and replacing school redesign with school closings. It was a trend he would take to scale as CEO of Philadelphia Public Schools and later as school boss in post-Katrina New Orleans.
The privatization of Philly schools has been in the works for a long time. It was given the green light by Sec. Arne Duncan when he and pal Newt Gingrich made their infamous tour of the city's privately-managed charter schools back in 2009.
The process continued in Philly during the scandal-ridden reign of Arlene Ackerman and her Image 2014 plan (modeled on Renaissance 2010), despite mass protests and school walk-outs by thousands of students).
The result, as I've documented in these pages and in our book, Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society, has been nothing less than a disaster for the city's 185,000, mostly African-American and Latino school children. Study after study showed that the 64 schools turned over to private management companies had failed to outperform the closed neighborhood schools they replaced.
Now that the Commission has ignored all the research and has moved ahead with its ideologically-driven district reorganization plan, it will be once again up to the students, teachers, parents and community activists to make their voices heard.