Mr. Martinez seems like a wonderful person with a passion and desire to improve the education system in Philadelphia. He said a number of things regarding collaboration with teachers and their unions that I do appreciate and agree are important. That being said, however, much of what he said today seemed to be tailored to us as an audience of teachers. When pushed to talk about aspects of competition and school choice in the Q&A session, he dropped hints of his education at the Broad Superintendent Academy (a relatively conservative place that wants to transition business-type executives into school systems).
I decided to ask a question focused on this issue:
"My name is Brian Cohen and I am a high school math teacher in the School District of Philadelphia. I want to thank you for
taking the time to meet with us and to hear our comments and questions - as someone who has been directly affected by
prior superintendent decisions I think it is crucially important that the next person in this position understand what it is like to
work in a low-income, high-need urban school district.
To that end, I would like you to speak about the contrast between the Broad Foundation principle that "competition among
American schools is healthy" and your belief in "a vision in which all children reach their potential regardless of their family
income or ethnic background." Competition inherently leaves people behind. How does your vision for Philadelphia
schools balance these issues?"
At first he dodged the question but subsequent individuals pushed him to share his views. It seems that he is a believer in the market system and that it should drive schools to improve themselves; if they don't, then they should be closed and replaced.
I don't think Mr. Martinez truly wants to collaborate on this venture. If he did, he would recognize that schools (charters, private, parochial, and public) are not competing on an even playing field and competition will eventually lead to a two-tiered system where the "haves" are performing well and the "have-nots" are left out to dry.