City Council can make recommendations to help improve public schools but Council does not directly control the School District or the School Reform Commission.
Check out the press release below and Councilman Bill Green's proposal here:
***For Immediate Release***
COUNCILMAN GREEN PROPOSES RESTRUCTURING OF PUBLIC SCHOOL GOVERNANCE
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Today Councilman At-Large Bill Green released a policy paper urging comprehensive reform of the way public schools are governed in Philadelphia and presented his proposals to the School Reform Commission during its scheduled meeting. In the paper, Green advocates for restoration of local control over successful public school and a strengthened state role in overhauling individual failing schools.
Since running for City Council in 2007, Councilman Green has been a strong proponent of improving public education in Philadelphia. Councilman Green firmly believes that fixing our school system and providing parents with more quality options is critical for strengthening the city's economy, encouraging middle-class families to stay in or move to the city, and giving our most vulnerable citizens the opportunity to succeed in life.
In the spring of 2010, Green released a policy paper outlining 37 specific recommendations to help fix Philadelphia schools. During the last year and a half, however, many of those recommendations have not been acted upon as the School District has struggled to deal with massive financial challenges, a controversial shake-up in leadership, waning public confidence, and the implementation of school reform efforts that have been limited in scope.
Green's new paper builds upon his prior recommendations and focuses primarily on how to restructure the governance of schools and remove the bureaucratic constraints standing in the way of meaningful reform. It also addresses the need to enhance the School District's accountability to local officials and taxpayers and strengthen oversight of charter schools.
"If Philadelphia's children are to be successful, we need rapid innovation and continuous improvement in our school system," said Councilman Green. "We have been treating the School District like a 'too big to fail' financial institution – plowing additional public resources into it, professing that changes in leadership will translate to improve outcomes, and not coming to grips with the problems plaguing it. In my view, however, the School District is a bureaucracy that is too big to succeed. We need to create a new, nimble structure that emphasizes complete overhaul of failing schools and restores local control over the many public schools that are already working for our children."
In the paper, Councilman Green proposes abolishing the existing School Reform Commission and splitting the governance of Philadelphia public schools among two entities – a Mayor-appointed Board of Education and a state-wide school reform entity similar to the Louisiana Recovery School District. Such a model would allow Philadelphia to regain control over the many schools that already produce impressive academic results while targeting state resources specifically toward turning around individual failing schools through a variety of innovative models. This governance structure would create a framework through which policymakers can maintain "what works" and quickly shut down and restructure troubled schools without the constraints of the existing School District bureaucracy. Restructuring of school governance is needed because: