Activists have launched an online petition to abolish the School Reform Commission (SRC), which has governed Philadelphia schools since the 2001 state takeover. The takeover prompted widespread protests. It also left some hope that if the state took clear control it might also finally take responsibility for adequately funding city schools.
Amid the most recent in an ongoing series of budget crises — which, in the wake of deep cuts under Gov. Tom Corbett, has caused mass layoffs of teachers and support staff, and the closing of 24 schools — it is clear that has not happened.
"Now is the time to end the colonial relationship with Harrisburg and take back our schools," according to an email from education activist Ronald Whitehorne, who posted the petition on behalf of Progressive Philly Rising.
Momentum is growing to abolish the SRC and create a locally elected school board. According to a Teacher Action Group survey, most Democratic candidates for governor would support doing so.
The petition is posted on the MoveOn website, and the text reads as follows:
"Thirteen years ago, the state took over Philadelphia's schools in what was seen as the most radical reform ever undertaken in a large urban school district. Ever since, our schools have declined, while parents, students, educators and ordinary citizens have been shut out of decision-making.
As a first step to revitalizing public education, it's time to abolish the School Reform Commission and replace it with a school board elected by the people of Philadelphia.
We call on elected officials to support House Bill 1821 introduced by State Rep. Mark Cohen that would return our schools to local control and create an elected board with power to raise revenue."
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