DISTRICT OFFICIALS got more than they bargained for during a meeting about a proposed new school report card last night when parents and teachers unleashed their frustrations about the district's status.
The district announced recently that it would abandon the School Performance Index and School Annual Reports as its usual indicators in exchange for a system that is designed with the help of charter schools, parents and community members.
After the meeting, school nurse Eileen Duffey summed it up: "When you get to these meetings, you find out there's a dual purpose. It's presented as a report card for parents when it's really an eval for corporations and corporate interest in turning over our schools. And for closing our schools."
Some parents questioned Sabrina Yusef, who is leading the transition for the district, about the timing of a report-card change in the middle of a school-funding crisis that has forced the district to lay off 3,859 employees. On Friday, some jobs were restored for most or all of the coming school year.
Parents such as Alison McDowell voiced a concern to Yusef that the new report card could wait.
"You're going to be stretched to reinvent this wheel at a time when probably there's a lot of things people could be doing [other] than this right now," she said.
Things got testy when education consultant David Stewart, president and founder of Tembo Consulting in Kensington, which won the bid to develop the new report card, explained that the private Michael and Susan Dell Foundation was funding the project.
Although the group was told repeatedly by Yusef that the Philadelphia Schools Partnership, often seen as a pro-charter school organization, was not involved in this process, Stewart revealed that he had been meeting with a working group associated with the partnership.
"So there is a connection. So there you go," McDowell told Stewart.
He countered, "You don't have to be condescending with your comments."