Part of UrbEd’s identified focuses is the SRC and regaining local control to the school district of Philadelphia. We see this as a concern because we think that without local control and the people most affected making the decisions, the decision makers will never be held accountable to the people and never truly reform the schools in the ways we would want them to. Because of this UrbEd sees local control of the school district to be a major step in reforming the schools.
But the SRC has been in place for over 15 years, why is now more than ever the time to abolish the SRC and transition to a locally elected school board? For years, the city and active education advocates have all talked about needing to abolish the SRC -- and now we have a firm and real timeline because this opportunity to get three out of five members to vote to abolish may not come again for a long time.
Estelle Richman, Joyce Wilkerson, and Chris McGinley all have expressed some interest or willingness to open the conversation to disbandment. That the 3 needed! This situation where there were even three possible supporters hasn’t occurred for a long time!
If that wasn’t enough motivation, In Fall 2018, our state will vote on a new Governor. Many people here will remember what happened when we had a Republican governor and a state controlled school board -- we had massive budget cuts, massive school closures in certain neighborhoods. Our schools are still recovering. We can’t risk this. With Trump, with Betsy DeVos -- we need local control of our schools more than ever! This means that to reach the 180 day requirement, the vote needs to happen by the Fall of 2017.
According to Act 46, to abolish the SRC, we need a simple majority vote of SRC members and then the Secretary of Education needs to approve the vote. This vote needs to happen at least 180 days before the end of the school year for local control to go into effect.
This would give us an entire year until the 2018-2019 school year to discuss what local control would look like and what the next steps are. This year should be used to gather the voices of students, teachers, parent, faculty, and community members and build a sustainable and just system that works for all of us -- a school governance system that we all deserve.
WRITER: Luke Risher