Tuesday, April 5, 2016

PA: Court Upholds Spanking of Philly SRC

Back in February, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Philadelphia's appointed-not-elected School Reform Commission didn't have most of the powers it thought it had.

It was immediately difficult to determine whether this was good news or bad news-- the SRC had claimed for itself the power to cap charter enrollment, close schools, and unilaterally rewrite/cancel teacher contracts (thereby guaranteeing that the SRC had no friends in Philadelphia's education world).

What the court actually said was that the original act of the legislature that gave the SRC "carte blache" to do whatever the heck they wanted was, in fact, unconstitutional.This was bad news for the SRC, which has discovered, among other tings, that Pennsylvania charter school law lets charters suck a huge amount of blood out of public school systems. They have also discovered that paying teachers costs money (and are busy discovering this year that hiring substitute teachers costs money, too). The SRC can be forgiven for feeling hugely poor-- they are dealing with a very poor urban system in a state that has one of the worst funding systems in the country.

But their dreams of being able to rule over the district like autocratic CEO's are now dashed for good. The PA Supremes considered revisiting their February decision and used exactly one sentence to deny that reconsideration. Philadelphia schools will have to operate under the law, and the SRC no longer gets to make up their own rules and play sheriff in a wild west town.

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