It’s Week Four of Philadelphia’s manufactured school funding crisis. The “doomsday budget” has left teachers scrambling for critical school supplies.
Still, the vultures are circling. There’s money to be made by siphoning taxpayers’ dollars to unaccountable charter and Catholic schools.
So today, wealthy donors gathered for a two-day conference ostensibly to “examine the most promising strategies to grow what works in all of a city’s schools—charter, district, and Catholic/private—and explore the challenges and benefits of a city-based, multischool sector strategy.”
My routine request to cover the conference was turned down by Cassandra McClellan, Meetings Coordinator for the Philanthropy Roundtable. McClellan wrote:
Thank you for your interest but our events are private and are not open to the media.
Isn’t that rich. A meeting to “increase the number of great K-12 options” is being held behind closed doors at the Union League. What are they hiding?
If they had any shame, they would want to hide the fact the co-founder of the Philadelphia School Partnership, which “will lead donors through a special discussion of investment strategies targeted at expanding great schools,” is looking for an investment strategy to escape bankruptcy.
PSP’s co-founder Michael O’Neill is Founder & CEO of Preferred Sands. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Preferred Sands Holding Co., a closely held supplier to oil-and-gas drillers, has hired restructuring advisers as it battles a high debt load and weak operating results, people familiar with the matter said.
The company may file for bankruptcy protection though it is still examining opportunities for an out-of-court restructuring, these people said. Barclays PLC—the company’s lender along with KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc.—could provide a debtor-in-possession loan in the event of a Chapter 11 filing, they added.
Now get this: In addition to leading his company to the brink of bankruptcy, O’Neill is a staunch supporter of Catholic schools. He is the Chairman of Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools. It strains one’s faith to suggest O’Neill has any interest in strengthening traditional public schools.
Public schools and voting are at the heart of our democracy. In the birthplace of our democracy, both institutions are under attack. In 2012, it was the assault on voting rights. Today, the same forces behind the push for restrictive photo ID laws are spearheading the assault on traditional public schools.
Last week, Philadelphia was host to the 2013 National Urban League Conference, “Redeem the Dream.”
In his State of the Urban League Address, NUL President Marc H. Morial observed:
Next month – on Aug. 28 – will be 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, organized in part by our own Whitney M. Young, Jr., and challenged this nation to live up to the founding ideals that were conceived in Philadelphia and engraved in that Liberty Bell.
The events, both good and bad, of 1963, awakened the conscience of this nation and sped up the wheels of progress. I mention these events, not to elicit tears or sadness, but to remind you of both the sacrifices and the progress that have been made over the past 50 years. These events directly led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
As I listened to Morial’s remarks, I was reminded of Duke Ellington’s composition, “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.”
Thank God, things ain’t what they used to be. As Morial noted:
Fifty years ago, 75% of black adults had not completed high school. Currently, 85% of black adults have a high school education. At the college level, there are now 3.5 times more blacks enrolled, and five times as many blacks hold a college degree.
But the struggle continues.
As part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Urban League and The Memorial Foundation will convene Drum Majors for Justice Summit: Redeem the Dream “to celebrate, renew our commitment, and equip young leaders to be drum majors into the future.”
For more info, visit Drum Majors for Justice.