One week ago, Mayor Kenney announced his plan to replace the School Reform Commission (SRC) with a school board that he would appoint. If the SRC chooses to dissolve before the end of the year, they would be officially out of power as of June 2018.
“For too long, we have pointed fingers at each other, whether it be traditional public schools and public charter schools or city elected officials, and state elected officials. Again and again we have told the people of Philadelphia that the state of their schools are someone else’s responsibility. That ends today,” said Mayor Kenney during his speech last Thursday.
He announced his plan to implement a nine member school board that would be appointed by him and approved by city council. This plan would make sure the city is being held accountable for Philadelphia’s school system.
Early childhood education professor at Temple, Professor Brook-Dupree, taught in the Philadelphia School District for thirty years. She agreed with the mayor’s decision saying,“This city will know our needs, will know neighborhoods, will know communities, will have that feeling that they know what our needs are, rather than somebody who is so removed from it (like in) Harrisburg.”
The School Reform Commission was implemented sixteen years ago. It is a group of 5 members, appointed by Harrisburg and the mayor, and it allows for the state and city to have joint control of the school district.
The Chair of the SRC, Joyce Wilkerson, says that she believes joint control is no longer necessary, “When the state stepped in, it did it at a time of financial crisis for the district, for a few years there was extra revenue, but that quickly went by the wayside.”
The SRC must vote for itself to dissolve. As a five member committee needing majority rule, only three members must vote in favor of the dissolution. Then, it must be ratified by the State Department of Education and 180 days later it would be officially gone. And Philadelphia would have local control of their education system.
“We need something that is close to the city. Close to the kids who has children here. That’s a big deal,” says Professor Brook-Dupree.