Protesters at SRC meeting angrily call for dramatic changes
Kenya Nation, who has two children in Wister Elementary, speaks abut her frustration with the school system in front of the Philadelphia School District headquarters on Broad Street. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
For more than four restless hours Thursday, anger at Philadelphia School District leaders simmered, at times boiling over.
At a School Reform Commission meeting and at a union rally held before the meeting, teachers, parents, and community members expressed anger at the district's planned conversion of three schools into charters, at its handing over substitute-teaching services to a company that has underperformed, at its nurse staffing levels, and at its overcrowding in some schools.
"Are you deliberately trying to destroy public education in Philadelphia, or are you just grossly incompetent?" retired teacher and librarian Deborah Grill asked leaders.
"You continue to mismanage our district with dishonesty and incompetence," Peg Devine, the nurse at Lincoln High, charged.
"This is personal for me," said an emotional Renita Brown, parent of a child at Cooke Elementary, one of the schools slated to be converted into a charter. "Our children are not cattle."
At one point, an amplifier blew and the microphones in the SRC auditorium went out. The restless audience filled the silence with a chant.
"Hite must go! Hite must go!" they shouted, referring to Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.
Much of the anger came over a plan Hite announced earlier this month that would, he said, move 15,000 students into better schools. The plan calls for three charter conversions, two school closures, grade changes in other buildings, and opening two new schools.
There was no mention of the new schools, but widespread
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