One look at the agenda of this conference plainly shows the direction the creators are aiming for: a non-public school system driven by rich people who make policy and pedagogical decisions for poor residents of Philadelphia. The schools they visited today are only charter and parochial - no traditional public schools involved. Perhaps it is because of the fact that class sizes have ballooned and there are no counselors to assist students in applying to college. Or perhaps it is because there has been systematic disinvestment over the past five years. Whatever the reason, they are not seeing how their donations and policy influence is ruining one of the oldest school systems in the country.
Ever since the Pew survey came out on who is truly at fault, I have been trying to focus people's attention to the chart on the right. Only 11% of respondents view the teachers and their union as at fault. If that is the case - and teachers are telling all that their rights are not the issue - why do groups like PSP and PennCAN call for the end to seniority rights? While I agree certain things can be worked on, there is a place for seniority in order to keep administrators from using a grudge to solve a budgetary problem.
I truly hope something good can come from this conference but I sincerely doubt that it will unless more teacher voice in included.