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Teachers’ union, supporters seek fall ballot question on abolishing SRC

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools are seeking a resolution from City Council and a non-binding referendum on the November ballot calling for the School Reform Commission to be disbanded and the District returned to local control.

The PFT and PCAPS held a press conference Tuesday to announce the results of an informal survey of about 3,000 parents and residents that found overwhelming support for replacing the SRC with a local school board that is either elected or appointed by the mayor.

The state took over the District in 2001, citing fiscal and academic distress. However, in 13 years under the SRC, the District’s financial problems have only worsened, with many schools lacking basic services.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes, State Rep. Cherelle Parker and City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell joined the PFT at the press conference.

Parker said that the next few months will be crucial as the state, city and District finalize their budgets. Parker said the "unfunding" of public education is a statewide issue.

Hughes said that a major reason for abolishing the SRC — which has three members appointed by the governor and two by the mayor — is that its members haven’t demanded more funding from the state. He said his constituents tell him that they are most concerned about the condition of the city’s schools.

Philadelphia is the only one of the Commonwealth’s 500 school districts that does not have an elected local school board. Several others, including Chester-Upland, have also been declared "distressed" and put under state control for varying periods of time.

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