Friends and neighbors,
To help us all understand what the hell is playing out right now in Philly schools, I wanted to start compiling a list of resources and articles about the Philadelphia School District's present situation and how it came about. If you've got more to add (and there WILL be a lot more being written about this subject in the days/weeks to come), please post them in the comments for others to read.
For those that haven't heard, on Tuesday, the mostly state-appointed School Reform Commission announced that because of a projected $218 million deficit, it was basically dismantling the Philadelphia School District. The "plan" they announced involves closing 40 schools in 2013, and closing 6 additional schools each year until 2017. Whatever is left will be divided up into "achievement networks" of around 25 schools. Managment over these networks of schools will be open to competition from public and private entities (including non-profits and for-profit corporations).
All this takes place about a decade after a Harrisburg-engineered takeover of the Philadelphia School District. In 2001, the Philadelphia School District faced a $216 million deficit and growing public concerns that it was not effectively educating young people in this city. At that time, the Republican controlled state government used this financial and internal crisis as a pretext for a radical experiment in school privatization. The state invoked a recently passed law allowing for Harrisburg to seize control over the Philadelphia School District and appoint a School Reform Commision with broad authority to turn over the management of schools to corporations and non-profits. Collective bargaining rights for teachers were curtailed as teacher strikes were made illegal. At the time of the takeover, it appeared that the for-profit corporation Edison Schools would takeover the entire Philadelphia School District. This didn't happen because people fought it and won. Instead, the SRC pushed partial privatization through a "blended" model involving regular neighborhood schools, charters, and other school models administered by public and private entities.
Now the same state-created SRC that was tasked with "saving" the district from ruin by bringing in outside managers and selling off schools to private captial has driven the district into a wall. They've drafted a new agenda for radical privatization and austerity. Corporations and politically connected non-profits stand to make a lot of money while students, families, and all city residents stand to suffer.
Let's read up quicks folks because things are about to get real here in Philly. If we don't understand what's going on and raise a whole of lot of hell very quickly, we're going to lose more than we can possibly imagine.
(It's not letting me post multiple links in the main text, so check the comments for article links.)