Mayor Kenney just announced the 9 members of the new school board, and he deserves recognition for the diversity of the new members. Choosing diversity is a good first step, but it must be accompanied with choosing members who demonstrate a commitment to full and fair funding for public schools. That is not so evident with this group.
I do not know all of the nine new members, but here is what I do know. Two of them are now members of the current SRC Board. I acknowledge the reasoning that these members provide a certain kind of continuity for the new board, but the SRC Board has not exactly been a champion of full and fair funding in the past and these members could have easily been replaced with parents, students and teachers who have expressed a commitment to that full and fair funding. Two other members have a shadowy connection to the charter school movement and their appointment is highly questionable.
I am not acquainted with the other new members, but the Our City Our Schools activist group has stated that the new group has members who are “tied to large corporate consolidation firms”. Another activist group, The Philadelphia Student Union, has stated that the new group represents “a fiscal management-type mindset.” These are very troubling signs.
What is missing from this new school board? There are no appointees who have advocated so long and so hard for local control. There are no appointees who have advocated for racial and economic justice for public schools.
Mayor Kenney and the new Board of Education must be held accountable to stand with working people and the true stakeholders in this process – parents, students, and public school educators – in order to create a budget that works for full and fair funding for public education.