Bill Green's Education Agenda: Hidden in Plain Sight
by Ken Derstine
August 19, 2014
Prior to becoming Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, Arne Duncan was the Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools for seven years. Until he became Secretary of Education, Duncan was on the board of the Broad Foundation. The Broad Foundation is one of the leading “philanthropies” promoting privatization through its Broad Superintendents Academy. Duncan laid the groundwork for the subsequent closing of fifty Chicago schools as part of the Broad strategy to transfer public schools to charter management companies.
This launched Chicago on a two-tier school system: one of charter and private schools for students from middle class and better off working class families, and the other for low-income families left behind in public schools starved of resources and support. This has become the template for the corporate education reform drive to privatize public education in urban districts across the U. S.
In Philadelphia, the task of advancing a two-tier school system has now been taken up by School Reform Commission Chairman William Green. Former City Councilman William Green IV was appointed by Governor Tom Corbett as Chairman of the SRC on February 21, 2014. The SRC is the appointed body that has managed the School District of Philadelphia since the state takeover dissolved the Philadelphia School Board in 2001. (Three members are appointed by the Governor and two by the Mayor.) Green joined Broad Superintendent William Hite to advance the two-tier school system agenda. (See More About Broad in Philadelphia)
Education Policy Papers of Councilman William Green
When Green took office in February 21, 2014, he was dubbed “the change agent” by some members of the local press. What kind of change he wants for Philadelphia public schools can be found in two policy papers he issued while a Democratic City Councilman.
Who researched and developed these policy papers has not been disclosed.
These policy papers were released when Green was clearly contemplating a run for mayor of Philadelphia. Thus, they should be seen as part of a proposed platform for Green’s campaign. Green’s appointment as chairman of the SRC came as a surprise to many.
Policy Paper #1: Investing in Philadelphia’s Future:
The Case for Comprehensive Education Reform
The sixty-two page first policy paper, Investing in Philadelphia’s Future: The Case for Comprehensive Education Reform, was issued in May 2010. In it Green supports the full corporate education reform agenda.
This 2010 policy paper opens with what is actually a useful description of Philadelphia public schools before the loss of federal stimulus funds and drastic education cuts ($300 million in Philadelphia alone) by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbet under the guidance of the corporate privatization promoter ALEC. The policy paper points out that, “The City of Philadelphia provides more direct support to the District than any other Pennsylvania municipality provides to its school district.” (2010 policy report, page 11)
Imagine 2014 included a proposal to designate some of the District’s most challenged and underperforming school as “Renaissance schools.” Under the proposal, some of the District’s chronically underperforming schools would be designated Renaissance Schools based on criteria including graduation and attendance rates, test scores, parent and teacher survey results, and visits to schools. These schools would be overhauled by being converted to charter schools, run by outside managers, or administered by the superintendent’s staff or other District employees with greater autonomy. Teachers at designated Renaissance Schools would be required to reapply for their jobs or transfer to other schools, with the Renaissance School permitted to rehire up to 50% of the original faculty. (2010 policy report, pages 13 and 14)
The method for determining school performance was the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). This test is given over several days in all public schools in Pennsylvania. Making no consideration of social and economic factors, the PSSA became the basis for closing twenty-four Philadelphia public schools in June, 2013.
The 2010 policy paper then lists specific areas headed What We Need To Do.
Section 1: Invest in Children From Birth Through College (pages 18 - 23) begins with a several pages calling for investment in early childhood education. Three pages (pages 20-22) discuss the Harlem Children’s Zone as a case study for what should happen in Philadelphia public schools. The school’s founder, Geoffrey Canada, played a starring role in Waiting for Superman, a right-wing attack on public education . Canada became notorious for expelling an eighth grade class at his school for low test scores. He resigned from the school in February 2014, but continues to be a spokesman for corporate education reform at various venues.
Section 2: Repair, Replace, and Consolidate Our Schools (pages 24 - 29) calls for investment in school infrastructure, that it defines as the necessity to “consolidate space”. The school district’s “Facilities Master Plan” began this consolidation with the closing of twenty-four schools in June 2013. This section of the report cites Penn Alexander School as a case study of how a good school can improve real estate values. The report makes no mention in this section that the school is heavily funded by the University of Pennsylvania as an experimental school for its own involvement in corporate education reform, and therefore cannot be seen as a typical Philadelphia public school.
Secion 3: What We Need to Do: Improve the Quality of Teaching and Instruction (pages 31 - 36) calls for merit pay for teachers and teacher evaluations based on test scores. The paper says:
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) recently announced its support for an overhaul of the way teachers are evaluated nationwide. AFT president Randi Weingarten hopes to develop a new model to better evaluate, promote, and remove teachers through year-round evaluations that take a wide array of factors into account. The model includes consideration of test scores – provided that the scores are used to assess whether a teacher’s students showed improvement during the school year.
Section 4, Improve and Expand Public School Choices (pages 37 - 46), calls for the oxymoronically designated “mandatory choice”. This universal enrollment system is described this way:
To support and systematize school choice initiatives, Philadelphia should implement a computerized system of mandatory high school selection. Under a system of mandatory choice, all incoming high school students would be required to rank their preferences on where they would like to go to high school, even if they prefer to attend their neighborhood high school. A computer program would then place students in their preferred schools far more efficiently and fairly than under the current system. (2010 policy paper, page 37)
Section 4 goes on to call for the Expansion of Existing Charter Schools and Formation of New Charter Schools.
In addition to encouraging the growth and expansion of existing successful charter schools, we should eliminate barriers to the creation of new charter schools, helping attract education entrepreneurs to Philadelphia to put their ideas and strategies into practice. (2010 policy paper, page 40)
The case study cited in this section is The KIPP Philadelphia Schools. (page 43 and 44) The policy paper states:
A charter school program that has received nationwide recognition for excellence – now operates two schools in Philadelphia. KIPP is a network of more than 80 charter schools operating throughout the country under independent administration but adhering to common guiding principles. KIPP’s goal is to increase the academic performance of minority and low-income students and almost all KIPP schools are intentionally sited in disadvantaged communities. (2010 policy paper, page 43-44)
Citing the KIPP central theme, “work hard, be nice”, lists the five KIPP principals listed on KIPP’s website.
This section concludes (page 44 and 45) with a call for partnerships with local universities to expand corporate education reform. In this section Green holds up the University of Pennsylvania’s relationship with Penn Alexander School, “which supports teacher training and per student subsidies”, as an example of such partnerships.
Section 5: Expand Scholarship Opportunities (page 47 - 49) calls for the increased use of Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC). EITC gives businesses a state tax credit of 75% (90% after two years) of their contribution, up to $300,000, towards scholarships for private and parochial schools. Even though this program has been in effect since 2001, it was largely ignored until the administration of Governor Thomas Corbett engineered a bill to increase its profile in its first year in office. This is another contributing factor to the public education funding crisis in Pennsylvania.
The final section of Green’s first policy paper , Why Is Education Reform Needed Now (pp 51-56), contains four sections, the titles of which clearly show the corporate perspective of his proposals:
• Improving Education Will Strengthen Philadelphia’s Economy
• Improving Education Will Retain Young and Middle-Class Families in Philadelphia
• Improving Education Will Improve the Quality of Life for Philadelphians by Reducing Crime and Saving Taxpayers Money
• Improving Education Will Brighten the Future of Our Most Vulnerable Citizens.
The last three pages contain charts giving the 2008 High School Performance Data for public schools and charters. It includes enrollment demographics, daily attendance, suspensions, and SAT Math and Reading scores. The graduation rate and dropout rate are given for public schools, but not charters.
This first policy paper was issued in May 2010, almost one year after the announcement of Superintendent Ackerman’s Imagine 2014 five-year plan. The corporate reform juggernaut was to hit a bump in the road, however – on August 22, 2011 when Superintendent Ackerman was bought out of her contract for almost $1 million. Ackerman had come into conflict with Mayor Nutter and several members of the SRC over which charter management company would get ownership of Martin Luther High School in April 2011. In August, she embarrassed the mayor by moving federal funds for all-day kindergarten when Nutter was in Harrisburg lobbying for more money for the schools. Her second-in-command, Leroy Nunnery, took over until her successor, Dr. William Hite (Broad Superintendent Academy Class of 2005) was appointed June 29, 2012, ten months later.
The Great Schools Compact
Implementation of Imagine 2014 did not skip a beat, however. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded Great Schools Compact was announced November 15, 2011. Membership on the compact was made up of the School Reform Commission, The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, The Mayor’s Office of Education, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, headed by Governor Corbett’s Education Secretary Ron Tomalis. The Compact holds unannounced, private meetings, and its activities are not for public record.
Perhaps the most influential member of the Great Schools Compact Committee is the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP), described this way by Executive Director Mark Gleason in a February 27, 2012 interview:
We are the facilitators …We have played a convening role in bringing together charter operators and representatives of the School District, as well as the mayor’s office and the governor’s office, to forge this agreement that’s all about breaking down the adversarial relationship that has existed between charter and District schools.
The PSP actively lobbied the state legislature and Governor Corbett in support of Councilman Green’s appointment as chairman of the SRC.
Policy Paper #2: Protecting Philadelphia’s Future:
Part Two of a Comprehensive Proposal to Repair Public Education
As the Great Schools Compact was being created, Councilman Bill Green issued his second policy report in December, 2011: Protecting Philadelphia’s Future: Part Two of a Comprehensive Proposal to Repair Public Education. This seventeen-page document lays out the two-tiered education plan for Philadelphia schools modeled on similar plans being implemented by corporate education reformers in urban school districts all around the country.
The position taken in the policy paper is that the Philadelphia School District is “too large and too diverse to be effectively governed by the existing, centralized School District structure.” It proposes (boldface in the original):
Philadelphia public schools should be governed by two separate entities: a new state-wide school reform entity similar to Louisiana’s Recovery School District that focuses solely on taking over and turning around failing schools across the state and a locally-appointed Board of Education.
Key Principles Underlying this Proposal as stated in the paper are (pages 4 - 8):
• First, and fundamentally, the School District is not doing enough to turn around all Philadelphia’s failing schools.
• Second, the School District has too many competing priorities and too much bureaucracy to be an effective administrator of innovative turn-around efforts.
• Third, continuous school improvement must become a “permanent priority”.
• Fourth, investment and participation by the state is needed to turn around failing schools.
• Fifth, and as important as anything else, stronger local accountability is needed for Philadelphia’s schools.
• Sixth, school turnaround efforts must be de-politicized.
• Seventh, charter governance must be improved.
• Last and no means least, additional resources must be brought into public education.
This second position paper then explains how the newly created statewide Pennsylvania Recovery School District would be modeled on Louisiana’s Recovery School District (pages 8 and 9). What Pennsylvania schools are recovering from is not specified. Secretary of Education Duncan infamously said that Hurricane Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans” because the city could start with a clean slate to rebuild its school system with charters. The public schools in Pennsylvania have also been hit with a disaster, but this one is entirely man-made. Urban and rural public schools in Pennsylvania have been underfunded for decades, and are now being systematically starved of resources while charters are being built up. The goal of corporate and financial interests seems to be to have non-union schools where teachers have no job security and to have their living standards subject to the whims of the market. The actions this position paper proposes would be the culmination of this attack on public schools.
The Pennsylvania Recovery School District for “low-performing schools” outlined in the policy paper would be directly administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, with the Secretary of Education appointing its board members and directly overseeing its operations. Its appointed members would focus solely on taking over and “turning around failing schools” across the state; it says (pages 8 and 9),
In the course of turning around failing schools, the Pennsylvania Area Recovery School District (PARSD) would provide targeted, increased financial support; implement education reforms – including extensive use of alternative education methods, such as charter and pilot schools; and implementing managerial and pedagogical best practices. A “failing” school could be defined by state established criteria, particularly failure to attain Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind guidelines for two or more consecutive years. More than one measure would be used so as to avoid depending on a particular test, instead determining whether the state is successfully preparing students for life.
This proposal builds upon the School District’s recent turnaround efforts at twenty-two of Philadelphia’s most troubled schools, while also appreciating the inherent limitations of trying to pursue those interventions and managing the 240 other District-operated schools. The District has attempted to bring about much-needed change at several dozen of the city’s worst performing schools through the Renaissance Schools and Promise Academy initiatives. These reform initiatives included removing all or a portion of existing staff and either (1) allowing charter operators to take over the school as Renaissance Charter Schools, or (2) directing more resources to the school from the District’s central office for supplemental programs and increased instruction time as Promise Academies.
Pages 9 - 13 are devoted to How It Works In Louisiana. RSDLA places all “failing schools” under a single entity “with the intent of turning them around and then returning them to local control.” At the time of the report this was seventy-seven schools. What actually happened is that all of New Orleans schools were “transformed” and became charters. No school has been “returned to local control”. This amounts to wishful thinking with no evidence to back up the claim that charters are the solution to the underfunding of schools, a pretty strange position for corporate education reformers who claim to be data-driven. After a few years, the evidence is mounting, despite corporate spin, that things have gotten worse in New Orleans schools. Louisiana blogger Jason France at his Crazy Crawfish blog says,
If your state is considering something like the RSD, tell them no. You tell them it was a complete failure in Louisiana and RSD got out of the business of being RSD in New Orleans. At least make them admit their real goal is to close all public schools and open them as charter schools. Make them tell you what their real plan is, but don’t let them tell you that the RSD plan is a template for anything but failure.
The Green policy paper goes on to laud similar experiments in other urban districts: Achievement School District in Tennessee; YES Prep Public Schools in Houston, charterization in Detroit, charterization in Kansas City schools, and Hawaii’s “Zones of School Innovation” plan.
Green’s second policy paper concludes with recommendations for implementation for PARSD. PARSD would be empowered to take over “failing schools” anywhere in Pennsylvania. He recommends:
• The authority to grant, expand, and close charter schools should be transferred to the state Department of Education.
• State law should allow the unlimited expansion of charter schools.
• Charter schools that are not part of specific neighborhood school turnaround efforts should be permitted to reserve a portion of their seats for students who live in a defined catchment area.
• To ensure “turnaround effort proceeds with all deliberate speed, “the bottom-performing 15% of schools in each district with failing schools would be transferred to PARSD each year.”
• The PARSD should use one of three turnaround models: (1) management by charter operator; (2) conversion to a pilot school, (3) management by PARDS.
• State funded vouchers would be made available for students currently under PARSD control.
The December 11, 2011 position paper concludes:
The task before us is significant and will be met with resistance. But we cannot be content with the status quo: tens of thousands of children trapped in failing schools with little hope that their educational prospects will improve anytime soon. It is past time to expand what works and close down what does not.
Assuming the Chairmanship of the SRC
When he was nominated for SRC Chairman on January 29, 2014, Green claimed his views on how to “transform” Philadelphia public schools in his two position papers had “evolved” and that he now believes that positive change can occur by keeping schools under the management of the Philadelphia School District. Time will tell if this is true or if he was just trying to divert attention from the two policy papers. Regardless, as his actions since being appointed show, there can be no question that Green is completely on board with corporate education reform.
Green attributed his change to having read a book by movie director M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan is a movie producer and director with no background or degrees in education. He says he bases his education expertise on five years of research and on observations of two Philadelphia high schools. The result is his book, “How I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Moviemaker Learned the Five Keys to Closing the Education Gap”.
A cornerstone of Shyamalan’s education theory is his dismissal of class size as a factor in education. He claims his research found “little correlation between academic improvement and smaller class size.” As with all of corporate reform, the theory does not match the actions of its practitioner. Shyamalan’s children attend a private school in suburban Philadelphia where the average class size is fourteen and the overall student to faculty ratio is 7:1.
Shyamalan has been feted at various corporate reform events, such as Philosopher’s Camp on Education Reform held in May 2014. He was also the keynote speaker at a spring meeting of corporate education reformers, business people, and financial managers at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve on May 14, 2014.
Many observers have justifiably scoffed at Green’s following Shyamalan, who has no education credentials, saying it shows Green’s lack of understanding of education issues and an anti-education bias widespread in American culture. Regardless of where Green now stands on the two position papers, however, he is following the program of the Boston Consulting Group's corporate education reform (funded by ALEC, Gates Foundation, Broad Foundation, Walton Foundation and local hedge funds) to a new level; a statewide corporate takeover of public schools in Pennsylvania.
For a detailed breakdown of how the groundwork was laid for the privatization of Philadelphia public schools by corporate philanthropies, the Boston Consulting Group, and the Philadelphia School Partnership, see these two articles by Philadelphia investigative journalist Daniel Denvir:
On August 2nd, 2012, one month after Dr. William Hite was appointed SDP Superintendent (and three months before Green's second policy paper was released), the Boston Consulting Group issued a 119-page report which outlined its recommendations for “turning around” the district’s schools. Asserting that the District’s financial problems are due to loss of state and federal revenues, not bad fiscal policy, it recommended the closing of 29 to 57 schools (begun with the closing of 24 in June, 2013). The report also called for work rule changes eliminating employee seniority; major wage and benefit cuts for members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; decentralization of the School District; and the transfer of 40 percent of district’s students to charters over five years.
William J. Green IV’s Career
William J. Green IV represents the third generation of a political family prominent in Philadelphia politics. His father, William J. Green III, is a former Philadelphia mayor and former U.S. House Representative. Green IV practiced corporate law before being elected to the Philadelphia City Council in 2007. While on a councilman-at-large (salary $117,990), he remained a partner at the law firm Kutak Rock LLP (yearly salary, $175,000). Kutak Rock is a national law firm which practices in the business and corporate world, public finance, and real estate. Of note is its role in charter school growth as stated on its website:
Our lawyers have participated as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel or borrower’s counsel in more than 175 charter school financings in aggregate of more than $1.5 billion in principal. We also have participated in New Market Tax Credit financings to benefit charter schools and used our expertise to combine the proceeds of both types of financings with historic tax credits, HUD loans and grants from federal, state, municipal and private sources. The proceeds from these types of transactions have helped charter schools finance classrooms, athletic facilities, auditoriums for fine arts performances and other uses, libraries, outdoor play environments and laboratories, as well as basic infrastructure and technology improvements that they otherwise may not have been able to afford.
The firm has offices in several cities including Philadelphia.
While still a member of the Philadelphia City Council, Green switched law firms joining the law firm Duane Morris L.L.P. which has more than 700 attorneys in offices around the country. The Philadelphia office is involved in representing the interests of corporate clients, according to its website:
Duane Morris' lawyers represent employers of all sizes in a broad spectrum of labor and employment matters, including equal employment opportunity compliance and litigation, statutory compliance and litigation defense and employment termination. We provide a full range of labor relations services, representing clients in union-organizing campaigns, proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, negotiations of labor contracts and disputes over labor contract provisions. We assist employers in protecting their proprietary information and in enforcing noncompetition and non-solicitation agreements. Our lawyers emphasize policies to prevent employment problems through our problem prevention programs and services, including seminars and workshops, customized training programs and employment practice audits.
On May 14, 2014, Green announced he was leaving Duane Morris L.L.P. (Philadelphia Inquirer - Green jumps to Dilworth Paxon - May 14th, 2014) to join the law firm of Dilworth Paxon L.L.P. He joined former U.S. Representative Robert Andrews at the firm. In the Inquirer article the firm’s new chief executive Ajay Raju is quoted:
Raju praised Green's legal skills - he has extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions, securities and business start-ups. But he underscored the importance of Green's work as SRC chair, which is unpaid but nearly a full-time job, especially as the Philadelphia School District grapples with a $216 million gap for the 2014-15 year.
Fixing the city's beleaguered public school system is "probably the most pressing issue" for the region, Raju said. He said Green is uniquely equipped to do that, and will have the full support of his new firm.
"We wanted to make sure that he had a home here," said Raju. "We wanted to be part of that fight."
Green said he was excited to join Dilworth Paxson. "The firm is in an exciting transition," he said. "I just think there's an exceptional opportunity in an entrepreneurial environment that I am excited about participating in.”
In its press release of May 13, 2014, Dilworth Paxon states:
Green represents Fortune 500 companies, private equity and venture investors, and start-ups as a corporate lawyer. He also founded several businesses and served as President of VistaScape Security Systems. He holds a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Of its involvement in education, the Dilworth Paxson website says:
Dilworth Paxson has a historic perspective on education issues in Philadelphia. The firm served for many years as lead counsel for the Philadelphia School District, most notably in cases involving school desegregation. Our higher education group also participated in suits against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding methods of school funding.
The firm continues to work with many private primary and secondary-level private and charter schools on financing issues. These include serving as bond counsel, school counsel or underwriter's counsel.
In the past, Dilworth Paxson has had strong connections to the owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. In March, 2012, the firm was instrumental in helping the past owners, H. F. Lenfest, George Norcross III, and Lewis Katz acquire the newspapers. H.F. Lenfest now has sole ownership of the newspapers. Through his Lenfest Foundation H.F. Lenfest has been a strong supporter of corporate education reform for years.
On April 25, 2014, Philadelphia Magazine published a profile of the CEO of Dwight Paxson, Ajay Raju Profile: The Big Raju. At the conclusion of the article is a glimpse of SRC Chairman Bill Green’s discussions with the CEO about joining the firm. The article states, "Raju can spin out any number of ways he’s in a position to help Green. He’s planning to host a salon with Green and school superintendent Bill Hite. He’d willingly advise on new ways to generate revenues for schools."
On August 19th, the Philadelpia Daily News ran a profile of Ajay Raju outlining his political ambitions. The law firm is sure to play role in the fiscal crisis of the School District of Philadelphia with the help the SRC Chairman who is a member of the firm.
The Demand for Concessions from School District of Philadelphia Employees
On March 17, 2014, administrators in Philadelphia public schools ratified a contract which included major concessions. Under that agreement, principals and assistant principals will take a substantial pay cut and will now work ten months instead the previous twelve.
Under Green’s direction, the SRC filed suit in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requesting the right to impose work rules and to eliminate seniority considerations when filling teacher vacancies, thus negating decades of collective bargaining agreements and good-faith negotiations.
On June 25, 2014 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the SRC petition. In a joint statement, Superintendent Bill Hite and SRC Chairman Bill Green said they were “disappointed”, adding; “The District's financial challenges reinforce the need for basic changes – essential changes – around school staffing, including layoffs and recalls."
As pointed out in a Daily Kos article on March 30, 2014,
By the way, just to remind you, a fifth-year teacher with a master's degree in Philadelphia schools makes $59,000. Green, for what it is worth, made more than triple that amount moonlighting in his former gig as a corporate lawyer in 2010, while still pulling down six figures in salary as a city councilman.
This is the salary schedule that shows what Green and the other four members of the SRC, Mayor Nutter, and Governor Corbett would have Philadelphians believe is excessive. (Step increases are currently frozen because the union is working without a contract.) There has not been a wage increase in three years. They continue to say that teachers and other school professionals should make drastic concessions on wages and benefits for the disastrous budget cuts made by the state and the financial mismanagement of the SRC.
Since Green became SRC chairman, the School District has made several experiments at “turning around schools”. At Steel Elementary and Muñoz-Marín Elementary Schools, in a “parent trigger”-like election, parents voted decisively to keep their schools community public schools. Blaine and W. D. Kelley Elementary Schools, however, are being “transformed” with no community input, mostly by replacing the faculty with the cooperation of the principals. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has not protested this action because the replacement teachers will remain union members. A newly introduced method of transforming schools is the School Redesign Initiative. This attempts to present a facade of teacher and community involvement by allowing them or an outside agent to assume the management of a neighborhood school. Given past experience, and the lack of funds to support it, there is no reason to believe this is not just a slick version of privatizing community public schools.
The Philadelphia School District Budget Crisis (August, 2014).
Even “turnaround” experiments are jeopardized, however, because at this writing, the Doomesday Budget crisis of one year ago has drastically deepened. The Governor and the General Assembly have failed to come up with the funds necessary to provide an adequate education as mandated in the state constitution. In his first year in office, school funding statewide dropped by almost $1 billion, even as Corbett and the legislature increased funding for prisons by $700 million. He even withheld the $45 million in federal funds in the fall of 2013 until the death of student Laporshia Massey, where nursing cuts in public schools were a factor, at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. Governor Corbett recently advanced $265 million in the current state allotment to the district, but this does not represent any additional funding; the Governor is just moving money until after the November gubernatorial election. As a result, the crisis in the in Philadelphia schools continues with threats of layoffs of more then one thousand school employees, increasing class sizes to thirty-seven in elementary and forty-one in high schools, and no restoration of the support services and resources cut with last year’s Doomsday budget.
Since the state takeover of Philadelphia’s public schools in 2001, the fox has been guarding the henhouse. The School Reform Commission has been controlled by the same corporate and financial interests working to privatize public schools in urban districts across the country. Many districts have already seen the implementation of inequitable, two-tiered systems. For the past decade, those in authority in the School District and in city government have been content to denigrate the District and its teachers to accomplish this goal. As a result, there is no sympathy or interest from officials in the Pennsylvania government to do anything to prevent the total collapse of Philadelphia’s public schools. This is a violaton of the state constitution which says "The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth." Article III, Section 14
At an April 2014 public meeting of the School Reform Commission, Green, speaking about the School District’s budget crisis, made a strange impromptu speech. After listening to dozens of students, parents, and teachers decry the conditions in the School District, Green lectured those same people about how the crisis is not the SRC’s fault. He decried the lack of support from the state, saying, “What is happening in our schools is immoral. It’s wrong.” Bill Green’s history makes clear, however, that in the midst of the collapse of funding for public schools he has no problem carrying out “immoral” actions, by undemocratic deception if necessary, to implement even more of the corporate education reform that will create a seperate and unequal two-tier system of education in Philadelphia based on family income.
On Friday, August 15th, Philadelphia School District officials, led by Superintendent Hite and SRC Chairman Green, held a press conference to address the next stage in the political and economic crisis over the SDP budget. Wage concessions from the PFT were taken off the table, and further layoffs have been postponed at least until October, in the hope that the State Legislature may raise additional funds. However, $32 million in “temporary” cuts were made, including in school security and maintenance.
Some of the most egregious cuts are made in transportation.: this will be the first year 7,500 high school students who live two miles away from their school will be denied transpasses. Transportation will be available to families who live two miles from a specific school. Hite openly stated at the press conference that students “will have an opportunity to get into other programs. Those programs may be from other providers or district run, but we will not have all of the choices that are currently available.” This once again sends a message to low income students that their getting an education should be an obstacle course.
This is a divide-and-conquer strategy designed to blackmail teachers into making major benefit concessions since restoration of the cuts is made contingent on union concessions. The union is already operating with a step pay increase freeze for new teachers due to working without a contract. This is a loss of tens of millions from the salaries of school district employees.
In his statement at the press conference, SRC Chairman Green said,
If they don’t [make benefit concessions], the SRC will need to exercise its powers and act. That is not a threat, just a statement of fact.
Update #2 (8/21/14)
Suddenly "partners" are coming up with money so that 7500 high school students do not have to walk as much as four miles to and from school. The question is why was this not done before the transportation cuts were announced? Is this simple incompetence or just more churn to keep the community off balance so they can't mobilize to fight this attack on public education?
At the same time, the SRC announced additonal cuts to the school security workforce. Ten percent of school police will be cut – "saving" $2.4 million. Many schools will now have to share a police officer. To get a picture of the conditions in the schools, read the comments with this article by teachers who are facing the prospect of conditions worse than those under last years "Domesday Budget". Several speak of being in theapy for Post Taumatic Stress Disorder.
Update #3 (3/9/2015)
Bill Green won't challenge his ouster as SRC chair
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 9, 2015
Green's video statement
Update #4 ($/19/2016
Green goes to court to regain post as SRC chair
Philadelphia Inquirer - April 19, 2016
The History of the State Takeover of Philadelphia Public Schools
To understand the present crisis in the School District of Philadelphia and how we got here, it is helpful to know how the state takeover of the School District came about in 2001.
In the City of Corporate Love and Beyond: The Boston Consulting Group, Gates, and the Filthy Rich
The Common Errant - May 18, 2012
School plan another misguided turnaround scheme
Lisa Haver @ Philadelphia Daily News - August 19, 2014
Woes of Philly schools cannot be overstated, Sen. Hughes declares
Philadelphia PUblic School Notebook - August 19th, 2014
Austerity, uncertainty loom large as Class of 2018 arrives
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - August 28th, 2014
Layoff notice issued to some district workers
Philadelphia Inquirer - August 29th, 2014
Students Wonder: Where Has Our Education Gone?
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - September 2, 2014
Students, parents unsure what to expect at city schools
Philadelphia Daily News - September 5, 2014
Would Someone Tell Governor Deal of Georgia the Truth about NOLA?
Diane Ravitch's blog - September 12, 2014
Abolish the SRC? Not Yet Green Says
Philadelphia Inquirer - September 19, 2014
A look back at the first two weeks of Philly classes
(Audio includes comment by Green about abolishing the SRC)
Philadelphia Newsworks - September 19, 2014
District and Penn team up to study school turnarounds
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - October 2, 2014
UPenn Offers Degree in Soulless Profiteering
Curmudgucation - June 21, 2014
UPenn Launching Degree Program Aimed at Future Charter Founders
Charters and Choice - Education Week - July 1, 2014
Audio of the SRC Meeting Canceling the PFT contract
SoundCloud - October 6, 2014
SRC’s Contract Move Isn’t About Shared Sacrifice — It’s Looting
Helen Gym @ Philadelphia Magazine - October 21, 2014
Helen Gym and Bill Green Try to Find Common Ground (or Not) on Education in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Magazine - October 21, 2014
Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neoliberalism
Truthout - October 19, 2014
Another teacher assulted at Bartram
November 8, 2014
District will review applications for 40 new charter schools
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - November 17, 2014
Phila. schools see 40 applications for new charters
Philadelphia Inquirer - Novmber 18, 2014
Suit: SRC "rubber-stamp" vote to cancel teachers' deal illegal
Philadelpia Daily News - November 21, 2014
A charter school named for a saint, but with secular aims
Philadelphia Inquirer - November 28, 2014
Mark Gleason Turns 'Dump the Losers" into a Pseudoscience
Defend Public Education - December 16, 2014
John White Refuses to Release La.'s Class of 2014 ACT Scores
Mercedes Schneider's EduBlog - January 3, 2015
School District lacked authority to cancel teachers' contract, court rules
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - January 22, 2015
Parents United prevails in getting BCG school-closings list
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - January 28, 2015
How the BCG, PSP and the Broad Foundations engineeered the closing of 24 Philadelphia schools.
(Read the comments.)
Big for-profit schools, big donations: the influence of charter schools on Pennsylvania politics
Harrisburg Patriot News - February 2, 2015
School district defends director's prominent political role
Philadelphia Daily News - February 8, 2015
SRC feels heat for adding five charters
Philadelphia Inquirer - February 20, 2015
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 1, 2015
Gov. Wolf names Marjorie Neff chair of SRC; Green says he'll fight move in court
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - March 1, 2015
YouTube - March 1, 2015
Hite's plan for Philly schools echoes Wolf's call for equity, more funding
Philadelphia Newsworks - March 4, 2015
Cloaked in a progressive veneer, Hite introduces the next phase of creating a two-tier educaiton system in Philadelphia.
Bill Green won't challenge his ouster as SRC chair
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 9, 2015
Green's video statement
A run for mayor for Bill Green?
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 11, 2015
Philadelphia Daily News - March 11, 2015
Pa's school-spending gap widest in nation
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 13, 2015
After years of trying to starve the public schools to advance a privatization agenda, Arne Duncan and city and school officials want to seperate themselves from the catastrophe they have created.
In cash-strapped School District, a hidden treasure trove of books
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 17, 2015
New Orleans Corporate Education Reform 101
March 30, 2015
Refuting the Myth of the New Orleans School Miracle: Children Lost after Hurricane Katrina
Jan Resseger - April 8, 2015
Transcript: Bill Green, Tony Williams discuss Helen Gym and Thursday's Susquehanna Intl. dust-up
Philadelphia Newsworks - May 1, 2015
Wherein SRC member Bill Green campaigns for pro-privatization mayoral candidate Anthony Williams and shows his hatred for Philadelphia public schools and teachers.
Ajay Raju: Born in India, made in Philly
Al Dia - May 15, 2015
Green on independent run: 'No coronation' for Kenney just yet
Philadelphia Inquirer - May 20, 2015
PA: Another Charter Boosting Plan
Curmudgucation - May 21, 2015
If your read the above article, this shows Green's education agenda is not original with him, he's just passing it on.
Letters: The risks of the new Pa. schools oversight plan
Philadelphia Inquirer - July 2, 2015
This letter from Research for Action shows Bill Green's agenda was given to him by corporate interests.
Clout: Why did Bill Green buy AjayRaju.info?
Philadelphia Daily News - July 10, 2015
Will Bill Green and Sam Katz Team Up for Surprise City Council Run?
Philadelphia Magazine - July 26, 2015
There will be no Katz-Green City Council Ticket
Philadelphia Inquirer - July 29, 2015
New Orleans Model Is Not Such a Model After All
Jan Resseger - October 6, 2015
Proposed changes to Pa. law would squander higher school funding
The Notebook - January 20, 2016
Michael Churchill is an attorney at the Public Interest Law Center.
Deborah Gordon Klehr is executive director of the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania.
Susan Spicka is an advocacy coordinator for Education Voters PA.
This change to the PA School Code would single out Philadelphia for the two-tier school system proposed by Bill Green.
State Takeovers of Low-Performing Schools: A Record of Academic Failure, Financial Mismanagement & Student Harm
The Center for Popular Democracy - February 5, 2016
Report Critiques State Takeover School Districts in LA, TN, and MI; Michigan's Will Be Dissolved
Jan Resseger – February 12, 2016
Green urges Wolf to sign GOP-passed budget
Philadelhia Inquirer - March 19, 2016
More on Memphis School Cuts and the Broad and Gates Foundations
Nancy Bailey's Education Webiste - April 14, 2016
Green's Achievement Districts plan didn't work in Tennessee.
Green goes to court to regain post as SRC chair
Philadelphia Inquirer - April 19, 2016
The Underachievement of School District 2015 Edition Part II
Gary Rubinstein's Blog - May 1, 2016
The failure of Green's turnaround model: the Tennessee Achievemnt School Distirct.
Achievement School District Doesn't
Curmudgucation - May 2, 2016
New Orleans' Katrina school takeover to end, Legislature decides
The Times-Picayune - May 5, 2016
New Orleans Plan: Charter Return to Local Control
New York Times - May 9, 2016
New Orleans returning to local control, but it is promoted by corporate education reformers.
SB 432 and the Dissolving of Louisiana's Recovery School District (RSD)
deutch29 - May 12, 2016
Mercedes Schneider sees the Walton Foundation footprint is the dissolving of RSD and Howard Fuller is part of it.
It's Official: Gov. Edwards Signs Into Law the Bill Dissolving State-run RSD
deutch29 - May 16, 2016
Green Out at Dilworth Paxon
Philadelphia Magazine - July 1, 2016
Protect Yourself from ASDs
Gary Rubinstein's blog - August 19, 2016
The Tennessee Achievement School Districts that Councilman Bill Green held up as a model in 2010, they're not doing so well.
Green asks judge to stop Wolf from naming new SRC chair
Philadelphia Inquirer – October 7, 2016
Big Name Charters Flee Tennessee's ASD
January 2, 2017