Philadelphia, Oct. 5, 2016 – Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) on Wednesday issued the following statement on the resignations of Marge Neff and Feather Houstoun from the School Reform Commission (SRC):
“I am grateful to SRC Chair Neff and Commissioner Houstoun for stepping up to an enormous challenge in service to our children and City. We might not have always agreed on votes or issues, but their commitment to public school students cannot be denied.
“The commissioners’ decision to resign ahead of the expiration of their terms should be viewed as an opportunity to restart a conversation within our City and with leaders in Harrisburg about how to help the Commonwealth’s largest public school district make meaningful progress. I have long believed that this conversation must begin with consensus around the fact that state control of the School District of Philadelphia has been a failed experiment with severe consequences for all Pennsylvanians. And in May of 2015, Philadelphians overwhelmingly voted for a referendum calling for the dissolution of the SRC and restoration of local control.
“The SRC as designed by state lawmakers 15 years ago is unaccountable to those it purports to serve as well as to one of its primary funders: the City of Philadelphia. This is a contradiction wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a jumble of red tape that the General Assembly alone is authorized to resolve. For too long, our most challenged students have been held to testing standards they have little hope of meeting given the deprivation of resources caused by state funding cuts. The SRC simultaneously answers to our Mayor and Governor while owing neither real accountability. This absurdity has come at the expense of our children, families, and hard-working educators who have not had a contract for four years.
“It’s time to restart a meaningful discussion about next steps for the SRC and School District. I look forward to engaging with District leaders, educators and staff; the Kenney Administration; the Wolf Administration; leaders of the General Assembly; and other stakeholders to find a rational, achievable solution that will benefit students, taxpayers, and the Commonwealth.”
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Council President Darrell L. Clarke is serving his second term as the President of Philadelphia City Council. He represents Philadelphia’s 5th Council District. More information at phlcouncil.com/DarrellClarke