Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mayoral Q&A: Schools, Part 2: Governance and choice

Mayoral Q&A
Philadelphia voters will go to the polls to select the major-party candidates for mayor May 19. With that in mind, the Inquirer Editorial Board posed seven questions on the issues that will face the city’s next mayor. Responses from candidates — except for Milton Street, whose campaign did not respond to invitations to participate — will be published daily through Friday, with the final one next Sunday.
Schools, Part 2: Governance
Would you push to eliminate the School Reform Commission? If so, replace with appointed or elected school board? Should the mayor be responsible for city schools?
Click on each candidate to see what they have to say.
Tap on each candidate to see what they have to say.
Lynne Abraham
Melissa Murray Bailey
Nelson Diaz
James Kenney
Doug Oliver
Anthony Williams
Lynne abraham
I envision a school board that has a superintendent appointed by the mayor, and a hybrid board structure comprised of both elected and appointed members.
“The SRC should remain intact until the next mayor has an opportunity to consult with Gov. Wolf to determine two things:
What are the governor’s plans for determining a fair funding formula — or equal “per-student allotment” — for all Pennsylvania children?
What will the governor need from Philadelphia in order to ensure that this fair funding formula is achieved? It’s possible that the Legislature may require the continued existence of the SRC in exchange for funding.
Following SRC’s eventual exit, I envision a school board that has a superintendent appointed by the mayor, and a hybrid board structure comprised of both elected and appointed members. To get the structure right, I would convene a committee of experts to recommend board structure, member qualifications, and proper checks and balances.”
For more information, visit lynneabraham.com.
James kenney
If the SRC dissolves because of public pressure, the state legislature may use its dissolution as an excuse to continue inappropriately funding our schools.
“The mayor’s most basic responsibility when it comes to the School District is to ensure our schools are financially stable.
The SRC was created in order to allow the governor and legislators in Harrisburg to have confidence that state tax dollars were being spent effectively and efficiently in Philadelphia schools. If the SRC dissolves because of public pressure, the state legislature may use its dissolution as an excuse to continue inappropriately funding our schools.
I would like to work with the General Assembly and Gov. Wolf to create a hybrid model that allows experienced Philadelphia parents with a vested interest in the success of our public schools to be appointed to the SRC.
When and if the SRC does vote to disband, or is removed by the governor and General Assembly, I would welcome an appointed school board as an opportunity for parents to hold their elected officials responsible for the quality of our schools.”
For more information, visit www.kenney2015.com.
anthony williams
Based on my experiences in public service, I do not support an elected school board.
“I believe in mayoral control of all public schools, and a board comprised of leading educators and parents with a stake in the future of the School District of Philadelphia. Based on my experiences in public service, I do not support an elected school board.
We certainly need more robust charter school governance and oversight as well. The School District charter school office has eight staff members to oversee 90 charters, and lacks the capacity to handle the influx of new charter applications.
I recently called for strengthening accountability and transparency under the law for charter schools, examining cost savings to effectively staff oversight activities, requiring annual reports and financial assessments, and clarifying the law’s vague language that led to lengthy and expensive legal challenges.
If we don’t make these changes, we will continue to see crises and sudden school closures, like the Walter D. Palmer charter school debacle, which left Philadelphians unemployed, and the School District and parents scrambling to find a place to provide children with a thorough and efficient education, a right guaranteed by Pennsylvania’s constitution.”
For more information, visit www.anthonyhwilliams.com.
doug oliver
I do not believe that the SRC should be eliminated.
“I do not believe that the SRC should be eliminated. However, after decades of failing Philadelphia students, it is evident that a shift must be made in the role of the SRC.
Initially, I believe the mayor should appoint three SRC board members, while the governor should appoint the remaining two. This would enable lines of accountability to be maintained with the city and state and aligns the interests of the superintendent and the governing authority.
Most importantly, I believe the SRC should function as a regulator rather than as an operator. The SRC’s core responsibility should be clear and unequivocal: Ensure that no school in Philadelphia — public or charter — is ineffective and enforce change when needed.”
For more information, visit dougoliver2015.com.
nelson diaz
Being mayor of a big city like Philadelphia means being in charge and knowing how to manage effectively. I’m the only candidate in this race with significant executive experience.
“I would eliminate the SRC and replace it with an appointed school board accountable to the mayor for one simple reason: What we’re doing isn’t working, and I want to be responsible for fixing things.
There is nothing more important to our future than our children’s education. The mayor should be in charge of making sure our schools are educating every child.
People act as if eliminating the SRC is impossible. It isn’t. The governor and I can simply appoint members who will vote to disband the body. People also act as though Harrisburg won’t increase school funding if we disband the SRC — but the existence of the SRC didn’t stop Gov. Corbett and the Republican legislature from slashing school funding to begin with. The SRC isn’t effective, and after 13 years of deepening dysfunction it’s time for it to go.
My entire career, people have been telling me that the bold ideas and big proposals I favored couldn’t possibly happen. I’ve made a habit of proving them wrong. Whether it was reforming our courts, reforming public housing nationally, or just making it out of Harlem and into college and law school in the first place, I haven’t taken no for an answer, and I’m not about to start now.
That’s the kind of attitude we need in our next mayor. Without an empowered executive in charge, our city can’t function the way it’s supposed to. Being mayor of a big city like Philadelphia means being in charge and knowing how to manage effectively. I’m the only candidate in this race with significant executive experience. It’s one thing to have ideas about what you’d like to change, but it’s something else entirely to actually wrangle the city bureaucracy and achieve those goals.”
For more information, visit NelsonDiazforMayor.com.
melissa murray bailey
I support the elimination of the SRC as a first order of business for a new mayor.
“The SRC is not working. It has been in place for almost 14 years and the schools are in as bad a shape as ever. I believe the main reason for this is diluted accountability.
With the state and city sharing responsibility for the schools, no one is truly on the hook. Once an SRC board member is appointed, he or she can only be removed for wrongdoing or a failure to perform, and can serve an unlimited number of terms. Since it is undisputed that the School District is not performing, how is it possible that the entire SRC hasn’t been removed?
I support the elimination of the SRC as a first order of business for a new mayor. I would also meet with the governor to discuss the plan for Philadelphia schools. It is in everyone’s best interest to make fixing the schools the number one priority and set out a plan.
The failure of the city’s schools is the root cause of so many of Philadelphia’s problems. We must raise this issue to the level that it deserves. As mayor, I will take on full accountability for the schools, making the superintendent part of my cabinet.
Additionally, if we look at the schools in the district that are performing well, they are the ones with a significant amount of parent and community involvement. As mayor, I would make sure that each schools has a parents’ group established.
Parent involvement at home and at school has a measurable impact on student performance, and is particularly important for English learners and students from low-income families. I will look to California’s example of involving parents in their children’s schools in two important ways: how funds are spent and in assessing how successful they are in working with parents.”
For more information, visit www.mmb2015.com.