Since the Our City Our Schools campaign launched in October 2016, we have been hard at work pressuring our elected officials at the School Reform Commissioners to call the simple majority vote to abolish the School Reform Commission and return our schools to local control. We have met with all three newly appointed SRC Commissioners, the Mayor’s office and the Governor’s office — the people who decide when the vote to abolish happens.
Here is a timeline of the Our City Our Schools campaign so far — stay tuned for more events and actions:
2014 — Teachers, parents and students, after enduring years of unaccountability from the SRC and massive school closures, collect 40,000 signatures to submit to City Council a referendum to abolish the School Reform Commission.
May 19, 2015 — In the 2015 primary election, voters elect Jim Kenney the Democratic nominee for Mayor. Voters also vote 3 to 1 in favor of abolishing the state-controlled School Reform Commission.
October 5, 2016 — Two SRC Commissioners, Marjorie Neff and Feather Houstonn, resign early. Our City Our Schools launches and calls on Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf to appoint two new SRC Commissioners who are committed to voting to abolish the SRC.
October 13, 2016 — Our City Our Schools holds rally outside of 440 N Broad, demanding that Mayor Kenney come forward and publicly support abolishing the SRC. Councilmembers Darrell Clarke, Jannie Blackwell, Blondell Reynolds-Brown and Helen Gym write a opinion piece calling for new SRC Commissioners to commit to dissolve the SRC. Mayor Kenney responds with a statement saying that he support local control, but that this is not the right time.
October 15, 2016 — Governor Wolf selects Estelle Richman to fill his appointed vacant spot on the SRC — Richman must be confirmed by the PA State Senate before being sat.
October 20, 2016 — Three leaders from the Our City Our Schools campaign meet with the Deputy Mayor for Policy and Legislation Jim Engler and Chief Education Office Otis Hackney. At the meeting, the Mayor’s representatives say that Mayor Kenney supports local control, but doesn’t want to commit to this publicly until Estelle Richman is confirmed by the PA State Senate. The Mayor’s Office pledges to give a timeline to abolish as soon as Estelle Richman is confirmed.
November 8, 2016 — Donald Trump is elected President. At the Our City Our Schools meeting after the election, the coalition recommits on the necessity for immediate local control in the face of Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos — specifically we can’t let our schools be susceptible to Harrisburg and DC in this moment.
November 16, 2016 — At Wilkerson’s first SRC meeting as chair, Our City Our Schools chair Antione Little greets Ms. Wilkerson by saying, “Ms. Wilkerson, we are glad you have joined the SRC, but we want our schools back. We look forward to the day when you as the chair call for a vote to abolish the SRC. Enough is enough.”
April 17, 2017 — Our City Our Schools meets with SRC Chair Joyce Wilkerson and asks her to commit to call the vote for abolishing the SRC. She says she is in support local control, but would not commit to a timeline for the vote.
May 10, 2017 — After months of waiting, Estelle Richman is confirmed by the PA Senate and sat on the SRC.
July 26, 2017 — A large group from Our City Our Schools meets with Jim Engler and Otis Hackney for the second time. At the meeting, they commit to giving us their timeline for abolishing the SRC within the next couple of weeks.
July 27, 2017 — A large group from Our City Our Schools meets with SRC Commissioners Estelle Richman and Chris McGinley. Richman and McGinley say they support local control, want to figure out what comes next and will talked to Joyce Wilkerson about putting the vote on the agenda for the Fall.
August 9, 2017 — After hearing no response from the Mayor’s office, Our City Our Schools holds a press conference to release our 4-phased proposal to transition the schools to local control.
- Philly Tribune: Groups Want SRC Abolished and Returned to Local Control
- Philly Inquirer: A Push to End the SRC — But Is Mayor Kenney On Board?
- Notebook: Activists Press for SRC to Disband Itself, Push Mayor to Start Process
- KYW Radio: Advocates Call on School Reform Commission to Dissolve Itself
August 31, 2017 — Hundreds of people call Mayor Kenney’s office and urge him to publicly commit to hold the vote for local control this year. Jim Engler responds saying that the Mayor will not be providing a timeline for the vote for local control at this time.
September 4, 2017 — As school starts, Our City Our Schools petitions outside of schools to say that this is the last semester of state control. Superintendent Hite does an interview where he says he is “agnostic” about local control and abolishing the SRC.
September 14, 2017 — Our City Our Schools packs the September SRC meeting to declare that time is ticking to hold the vote. Over 40 people testify in support of holding the vote to abolish the Fall, while holding up clocks and chanting “tick tick tick” to demonstrate the time ticking down until the December deadline.
October 3, 2017 — Reclaim Philadelphia members ask Mayor Kenney directly when he call for the vote to abolish the SRC — he replies maybe “sometime in 2018.”
October 19, 2017 — Once again, Our City Our School packs the October SRC meeting as Commissioners hear a presentation regarding the legal ramifications of the SRC abolishing itself — leading many to believe that the vote will happen this year.
October 30, 2017 — Our City Our Schools calls for the creation of a true People’s School Board as various city leaders call for the end to the SRC.