They are everywhere.
Tucked into residential windows. In a hallway at the Christian Street YMCA. In barbershop windows, and even on the pages of Facebook.
Pink, white, yellow and other colors of the rainbow, the signs that announce the existence of the group SOS (Supporters of Stanton School) are popping up in the South Philadelphia neighborhood of E.M. Stanton School, signifying a grassroots movement that seeks to head off the potential closing of the school.
When it was officially announced last week that Stanton, at 1700 Christian St., was on the list of nine schools recommended for shuttering by the Philadelphia School District as part of an effort to save money and reduce the number of under-utilized and underperforming buildings, SOS, an eclectic mix of people from all different backgrounds and races, knew as far back as June that the school might be on the list.
Now that it was made official last Wednesday, they are not standing still. They plan to do everything in their power to prevent the school, which has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) eight years running, from closing.
They have begun to circulate petitions in support of the school. A letter-writing campaign is scheduled for this Saturday at the Marian Anderson Recreatiol Center, 744 S. 17th St., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“We got wind [that the school might be on the closing list] of it way back in June,” said Stanton parent and SOS member James Wright. “You should not be closing a high-performing neighborhood school. This is what parents want in a high-performing school; and this is what the district is trying to create, a place where there are neighborhood partnerships and where the effort is being made to close the education gap. Stanton is doing exactly what they say they want schools to do in No Child Left Behind.”
Wright is so thoroughly sold on the school that he and his wife opted to keep their sixth-grade daughter there rather than transfer her to a nearby school with a “better reputation.” He hopes that his son, just four, will be a Stanton student in the future.
Stanton is an all-Black school. However, its supporters are anything but.
Retired teacher Susan Kettell, who is white, speaks about the children at Stanton as if they were her own. Kettell was an arts facilitator at Stanton for 10 years before she retired three years ago. These days, Kettel can’t stay away, and is in the aged building almost every day, lending a hand and helping to maintain the school’s exceptional ties to the arts community.
“I never thought any differently,” she said, when asked how she has developed such an affinity for a school of Black children. “There is no other way to be. It’s all about respecting all of humanity — that’s how I grew up; that’s how I was taught. I have a commitment to all children and color is the last thing that I see.”
Kettell has been with the faith-based neighborhood organization Bainbridge House for years. She has helped facilitate an 18-year mentoring program with the school. Bainbridge annually gives thousands of dollars to the school in the form of donations to the arts, whether it be costumes, art supplies, instruments or any other art-related gift.
But now the clock is ticking, again, on Stanton, which avoided closure eight years ago, due to a combination of low enrollment, low test scores and old facilities. While the school has just been recommended for closure again, those who support it, such as Wright and Kettell, know that they must be proactive.
Meetings have been planned by the SOS for once a week. While the core group is made up mostly of seven or eight members who represent many others, when they gathered in October as the recommendations were about to come down, more than 80 people showed up at First African Baptist Church at 16th and Christian streets.
“We are serious,” Wright said. “We will fight for our school.”
Bilal Qayyum has made a career of trying to defuse the senseless bloodshed on city streets that every year snuffs out the lives of Black men across Philadelphia. On a rainy Thursday, on the steps of the School District of Philadelphia, he added a new weapon in his fight.
Qayyum, representing the Fathers’ Day Rally Committee, last week lent his support to the city teachers, many of whom have been laid off and are looking for work following the budget cuts that drastically reduced their numbers. The rally, which brought together representatives of the N.A.A.C.P, The Fathers’ Day Rally Committee, Parents United for Public Education and a few other organizations wanting to show teachers some love.
The afternoon rally drew about 50 people.
“We wanted to make the statement that we support teachers and the hard work that they do,” Qayyum said. “They are beaten up nationally and locally. When you look at the things that happened here this summer — the SRC (School Reform Commission), Arlene Ackerman — all of the things that have happened but the test scores continue to go up. That says a lot about the teachers and the parents of the children.”
A number of other speakers joined the rally, including Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan. Jordan addressed the crowd just hours before his union — 15,000 strong — approved a one-year contract extension later that evening.
“This is really great to have partners across the city that support teachers,” Jordan said. “We have a job of producing great kids that will turn into great leaders for our city in the future; it is an incredible challenge.”
Jordan will be happy to hear that Qayyum intends to focus much of his energy moving forward advocating education and those charged with passing it on to the city’s students. Qayyum said that much of the violence in the city is the result of poverty. Poverty, Qayyum says, is the result of children not being educated.
This leads to a vicious cycle that so often victimizes African-American boys in particular.
“The mayor and the police commissioner can put as many police officers on the streets as possible but it’s not going to change the problem,” Qayyum said. “As long as we are producing men that aren’t sufficiently educated, they are going to continue to turn violence. Education is the only thing that will prevent this from happening.”
Qayyum mirrored the opinion of acting superintendent Leroy Nunery. Earlier this week in an editorial board meeting with the Tribune, Nunery said that it is important for teachers and students to become more digitally proficient.
“We have to bring attention to the fact that education is no longer about just reading, writing and arithmetic,” Qayyum said. “Kids have to receive the proper education that prepares them to be successful in the future.”
After an adversarial summer that left the School Reform Commission and the office of the superintendent in a state of upheaval, conversation is breaking out across the city with the goal of moving forward and leaving the ruins behind.
This was the tone struck Tuesday night at a public forum discussion of governance and the School District of Philadelphia. Presented by Public Citizens for Children and Youth at the United Way building, the panel, moderated by recently retired Philadelphia Daily News columnist Elmer Smith, took on issues such as whether or not SRC members should be paid, whether an elected board works better than the SRC, the lack of succession planning in leadership positions and other issues.
SRC critic Helen Gym, founder of Parents United for Public Education, believes that the SRC, which oversees the third largest budget (approximately $3 billion), should be a full-time job.
“I don’t think that five people who have separate jobs and think they are volunteering as an appointment can really do the job that is necessary,” Gym flatly stated. “I just don’t think it’s a volunteer job. You have the third largest budget in the state and you are just going to hand it over to a group of volunteers who don’t have it on their agenda as a full-time job? I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”
Sandra Dungee-Glenn, president and chief executive officer of American Cities Foundation, was the former chair of the SRC. She also served on the Board of Education before it was replaced by the SRC in 2001 in response to the school district’s financial problems.
Dungee-Glenn believes that the chair should take a salary; the other four members, she says, should not.
“You are sitting in that seat and it’s hard for anyone; it’s tough,” Dungee-Glenn said. “For the chair to do it well you need to be devoted to it full time. You are not only the leading voice but you are also the one responsible for setting the agenda — you’re the face of the city and the school district. So, yes, the chair should be a full-time position.”
The district is still trying to close a budget gap that was as high as $680 million. There have been mass layoffs, a damning report out of the mayor’s office condemning the actions of former SRC boss Robert L. Archie and state Rep. Dwight Evans, the buyout of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and the subsequent resignations of Archie and fellow board member Johnny Irizarry.
For Dungee-Glenn, how those charged with leading the school district arrive there — via appointment or election — is more important is that they know there job when they get there.
“How they get there is not really important,” she said. “Whether elected or appointed, most school board members are very poorly prepared for what we are asked to do — that’s really the problem.”
Keith Lomax, a 2011 Southern High graduate, expressed concerns that the SRC didn’t operate in the best interest of Philadelphians, mostly because the governor has more appointments than the mayor.
“It should have had more people from Philadelphia who are familiar with what goes on in Philly,” Lomax, headed for the army, said.
For Maurice Jones, a member of the Philadelphia Student Union and the West Philadelphia Coalition of Neighborhood Schools, governance at the school district is an amorphous group of acronyms that seem out of touch with parents and the students.
“From the perspective of a parent,” Jones, the home and school president of Lea Elementary, said, “I just feel like I haven’t been able to interact with the whole process because my voice is never heard. People get nominated for positions and there is no interaction. They come and they go and during that process the parents, who speak for children, don’t have a say. When they are gone the parent is still left standing and wondering when I’m going to get a say. When do we get an opportunity to have a say?”
Samuel Reed, a representative for the for the Teachers’ Institute of Philadelphia, believes that too often governance is discussed from the top down, the result being that the grass roots people are ignored and neglected.
“We all need to be involved to have a better, more responsive school district,” Reed said. “Therefore you should just be concerned about who is in charge and running the big operation. Let’s take care of the foundation at the school level, then we can approach what we need to do at the top. If you have a poor foundation but good governance at the top, what are you going to have? The foundation hasn’t been addressed and as a result the building is going to crumble.”
Smith led the discussion into a conversation about succession planning; something the school district has come under criticism for, particularly in wake of yet another national search to fill the vacant superintendent’s seat. Smith asked whether constantly bringing in people with a “new vision” for the school district was a good idea.
“I get nervous whenever I hear people talking about that,” said former Trenton Public Schools principal and Penn Professor James H. Lytle said. “One of Philadelphia’s biggest problems is that it hasn’t had a local superintendent since the mid 1990s.”
A professor of Foundations and Practices in education, Lytle added, “One of the first things you teach is leadership so that you don’t have to go fishing all over the countryside every time we need a new leader. We have not done a good job of this at any level.”
Bright Hope Baptist Church Pastor Kevin Johnson has heard all of the talk about “turning pages” and transparency coming out of the Philadelphia School District the past week.
He’s seen the School Reform Commission swear in a new member, and he’s seen the appointment, by the mayor and the state, of a pair of executive advisors.
But Johnson wants to see the changes in action, not hear about them from a podium.
“All of this looks good in theory,” said Johnson, who is former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s minister. “But the verdict is still out. It might work for the adults. But the verdict is out on whether or not it will work for the kids.”
On Monday, Mayor Michael Nutter, state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis and the SRC held a press conference to reinforce the notion of increased cooperation and collaboration between the city and state to improve the school district. In the days to follow, anyone connected with the school district spoke of a new transparency, something sorely lacking in the school district in recent months.
Johnson hopes this new transparency is not solely about the children, but also the business that is generated by the school district’s $3 billion budget. Referencing the uproar in the city when Ackerman gave a previous no-bid contract for $7.5 million to IBS Communications, Inc — one of many minority firms sidestepped for district business — Johnson hopes that this will no longer be the case in a district that is more than 80 percent African American.
“I’m all for fiscal transparency but I’m also for fiscal equity,” Johnson said. “We can be transparent all we want, but what good is it if minority contractors don’t get their fair share? What good is it if there is no equity?”
On the same page with Johnson is state Rep. Ron Waters. Like Johnson, a supporter of Ackerman, Waters wants more than lip service in every facet of the school district’s operation.
“There has to be transparency in order to build up and keep public trust strong,” Waters said. “Taxpayers are entitled to know how the money is being spent and invested. They should know everything from payrolls to contracts to student achievement.”
Nutter on Tuesday named Lori Shorr, since 2008 the mayor’s chief education officer and the director of the office of the public school family and child advocate, as the city’s executive adviser. Tomalis named Edward Williams, the school district’s former chief academic officer, as the state’s representative. Acting chair Wendell Pritchett, the mayor’s most recent appointee to the SRC, made his debut at the first SRC meeting of the academic year on Wednesday. Nutter is expected to name his next appointee later this month, and gubernatorial appointee Pedro Ramos should go before the state senate for confirmation around Thanksgiving.
And in one final Wednesday move, Craig Carnaroli, executive vice president at the University of Pennsylvania, was chosen to head up the Financial Operations and Systems Working Group, an unpaid position. The SRC will appoint a group of five to nine executives from around the city with expertise on financial, contracting, and personnel matters.
On Wednesday, Shorr and Williams said their role is to offer advice to interim superintendent Leroy Nunery. However, Nunery will “be the man to make the final decisions,” Williams said.
All of these moves are seen as counters to the circus-like operation of the district in recent months. There has been little explanation as to how the district budget gap soared to $629 million. Some have wondered if the strong-arm tactics of former SRC chairman Robert Archie and state Rep. Dwight Evans — detailed in a scathing report by the mayor’s chief integrity officer — warrant criminal charges.
All this, of course, was sandwiched between Ackerman’s SRC-granted contract extension, her refusal to support Evans’ charter takeover of Martin Luther King High School and her subsequent ouster as superintendent, orchestrated by the SRC.
This has activist Elder Pamela Williams making demands.
Before moving on, Williams wants to see the SRC’s books opened for the public going all the way back to its inception in January 2005. Like Johnson, she wants a full accounting of all the districts contracts.
“We say that we are going to be transparent, but where does it start?” Williams asked.
Referring to Shorr, Williams added, “It does not start with the mayor appointing an overseer to watch over Leroy Nunery,” the interim superintendent. “Now everything that happens will be pushed under the rug.”
Williams also believes that district chief financial officer Michael Masch has been given a free ride with regard to the district’s financial woes. Ackerman once described the advice given her by Masch as “mumbo-jumbo.”
Armbrister resigns, Corbett names Houstoun replacement
Denise McGregor Armbrister became the third member of the School Reform Commission to resign within a month, her resignation Wednesday coming on the heels of the departures of Chairman Robert L. Archie and Johnny Irizarry.
Not long after the ink on her resignation had dried, Gov. Tom Corbett moved to fill the vacancy with Thursday’s nomination of Feather O’Connor Houstoun.
“Feather Houstoun’s experience and depth of knowledge in public service will be a tremendous asset to help lead Philadelphia’s educational community,” Corbett said. “She understands many of the needs and challenges facing the children who attend our state’s largest public school system, and her experience running large public systems will bring a special expertise to the SRC.”
In June, Corbett named former City Solicitor Pedro Ramos as his choice to replace Archie as SRC chair.
However, Ramos is still awaiting state Senate confirmation. It is believed that Houstoun and Ramos will go through their state Senate confirmation hearings simultaneously to expedite the reformation of the SRC with its full complement of five members.
Earlier this month, Mayor Michael Nutter appointed Rutgers University-Camden Chancellor Wendell Pritchett to the SRC. He followed that up with the appointment of arts ambassador Lorene Carey. Joseph Dworetzky, whose term expires in 2014, is a gubernatorial appointment and now the longest tenured member of the Commission. He has been a member of the SRC for two years.
All of Armbrister’s children have been educated in the Philadelphia public schools, and she still has a daughter in the 11th grade in the district. In a recent phone conversation, Armbrister, who had already served four years on the SRC and would have seen her term expire in January, said she wanted to move out of the way so the governor could make an appointment and therefore move the Senate hearing ahead more quickly.
“I’m hoping this will expedite the process, that a fifth commission member will be named and the confirmation process can quickly begin,” Armbrister said. “It is complex and it is time-consuming. It is a lot of work.”
As priorities for the SRC, Armbrister mentioned the continued efforts to close the $680 million budget gap that has reduced the number of workers at headquarters by 50 percent and the number of employees district-wide by 30 percent. She touched on the huge undertaking that is the facilities master plan, a key component of the school district’s five-year strategic plan, Imagine 2014.
She also said that while the job of an SRC member is “extremely challenging work,” she did not suggest, as some have, that it should be a paid position.
“I want to say that I felt honored and humbled to take on this responsibility,” Armbrister, speaking of her tenure, said. “The work of the SRC is incredibly honorable work that, I assure you, none of the people whom I worked with took the responsibilities lightly. However, I don’t think that it should be a paid position.
“I owe a great deal of gratitude to my fellow commissioners,” Armbrister continued. “Hopefully the new and reconstituted commission can be put in place quickly and the SRC can go about the very crucial job of providing the children in the school district the best possible education. Nothing is more important than that. Nothing.”
“Feather Houstoun is one of Philadelphia’s most dedicated and accomplished public servants, and her appointment will help the SRC move forward with its difficult and critical work,” Nutter said. “While serving at the William Penn Foundation, Feather left an undeniably positive and lasting impact on the entire Philadelphia region. As a SRC member, she would be able to bring her expertise and passion to improving the lives of Philadelphia’s students.
“We look forward to the Pennsylvania Senate taking up the nominations for Pedro Ramos and Feather Houstoun,” she said. “Their quick confirmations will allow the new SRC to get on with their important work of identifying the next superintendent of the district and managing through complex budget and facilities issues.”
Houstoun, 65, is president of the William Penn Foundation. She has been the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare under Gov. Tom Ridge; worked as the chief financial officer for SEPTA; and served as treasurer of the state of New Jersey.
Canceled classes, uncertified teachers create uncertainty for Chester students
Khalil Williams, a senior at Chester’s Science and Discovery High School, said his jaw hit the floor.
“I couldn’t believe I was hearing what they were saying,” the 18-year-old senior said. “This is not supposed to happen.”
Williams, along with about 60 other seniors supposed to be a part of the school’s first graduating class next June, had just received the news that due to the lack of certified teachers, most of their classes had been canceled and that many of the classes that weren’t would not be credited toward graduation, leaving them short of the requisite credits for graduation.
“We come to school and have first two periods. Then, after lunch, the rest of the day we have classes that are taught by substitutes that either don’t care to teach us or don’t try to teach us,” Williams, said. “We just wind up sitting around socializing. It’s like free time.”
Williams, who said he wants to study journalism in college, said that counselors at the school have told him they will attempt to notify the colleges and universities that Science and Discovery students are applying to about the situation. He said counselors have also told him they would write letters on behalf of each student affected by this situation.
Chester students need 23 credit courses to graduate. Williams currently has 18 credits.
On Thursday, Williams and other students and concerned parents, held a press conference in front of the office of state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the former mayor of Chester and a former member of the Chester School Board.
They called for the resignation of school board members Leo Hackett (solicitor) and Wanda Mann (board president). Desire Grover of Action United said Joyce Wells, the inactive superintendent, and Dexter Davis, the inactive assistant superintendent – both, according to Grover, still on the payroll – should no longer be paid.
“We believe that this is all part of a larger plan to destroy the Chester School district and usher in school privatization, charters and vouchers,” Grover said. “What they are doing to this district is worse than unconscionable.”
One of the poorest school districts in the state, Chester saw its state funding reduced by $8 million last year.
Meanwhile, the largest charter school in Chester, Chester Community Charter School, is run by Vahan Gureghian, a major campaign contributor to Gov.Tom Corbett. Spread over two campuses, the school enrolls more than 2,700 students, making it bigger than half of the state’s districts.
Gureghian was the largest individual donor to the Corbett campaign over the last three years, contributing more than $330,000. He has also given $65,000 to the Pennsylvania House Republican Campaign Committee, and more than $60,000 to committees connected to Pileggi.
Meanwhile, according to state records, the Chester Upland School District was set to lose approximately $2,542 per student.
Following ethics report on Robert Archie and Dwight Evans, some feel students were robbed of opportunity
When former School Reform Commission chair Robert L. Archie and state Rep. Dwight Evans were using closed door meetings to coerce Atlanta-based charter manager Mosaica to back out of its just-awarded $60 million deal at Martin Luther King High School and hand it over to Evans’ cronies at Foundations, according to a report issued last week by the mayor’s office, Conchevia Washington believes a crime was being committed against a community and, more importantly, against its children.
“It would be tough for me to get up in the morning and look myself in the mirror,” Washington, the mother of a King student and chair of its Student Advisory Council, said of Archie and Evans. “It is a crime in and of itself when you rob children. We chose a provider we felt best fit the needs or our school.”
If Evans, Archie and others mentioned in last week’s bombshell fact-finding report on MLK — which was released by Chief Integrity Officer Joan Markman — have committed a crime, they have not done so in the eyes of those who have watched this sad drama unfold over the last several months.
As of last Friday, the District Attorney’s office told the Tribune that it had not laid eyes on the report 48 hours after its release last Wednesday. A spokesperson in the state Attorney General’s office said this is not the sort of investigation that the office typically undertakes. And in the office of the state Auditor General, where they are still investigating the SRC for its buyout of former superintendent Arlene Ackerman, an official there was unsure whether an investigation would ensue.
According to Committee of Seventy President Zach Stalberg, assuming the report is accurate, the roles of Archie and Evans both warrant a closer look. More than 30 people participated in the report, including Archie, but Evans chose not to be interviewed.
“Philadelphians should be appalled by the report’s picture of backroom dealings and political strong-arming,” Stalberg said. “And we don’t know the complete story because Dwight Evans refused to cooperate with the investigation. The fact that he didn’t demands further inquiry by someone with subpoena power.”
Ultimately, only a court can determine if what Evans and Archie engaged in rises to criminality. But Washington feels that she and other parents have been robbed of the opportunity afforded them by the SAC to be intimately involved in guiding the education of their children.
“When we first got together and formulated the SAC, it was based on getting parents involved in the decision making of not just what is best for the school, but what is also best for the community,” Washington said. “It gave real power back to parents who were previously powerless. Under normal circumstances, we would not have been allowed to confirm the provider.
Now, Washington feels powerless because King is not a charter school; it recently became a Promise Academy. She said that King’s transformation into a Promise Academy will improve the struggling school, but she pointed out that King’s conversion prevented another school in need of receiving the increased resources that come with being a Promise Academy.
“It trickles down,” Washington said. “No one goes unscarred.”
So often, African Americans like to point the finger of blame elsewhere, usually evoking the mythic “Man.” But this does not fly with Dr. Kevin R. Johnson, senior pastor at Bright Hope Baptist Church. Johnson says there is no room for this when the mayor, district attorney, police chief, fire chief, the majority leader of City Council and, until recently, the head of the SRC are all African Americans. The wounds, he says, are self-inflicted.
“Sadly, buried under the mountain of political debris are the futures of our children and community,” Johnson said. “As a pastor and father, my heart is grieved by the political fighting and infighting. Now, more than ever, our community is in desperate need of courageous, selfless leaders solely focused on the best interests of our great city.”
In the meantime, Washington has committed herself to working with King and making it a better place than it was before, even though she’s convinced the city and its corrupt political habits won’t soon change, and that Archie told the truth when he told Mosaica boss John Porter, “This is Philadelphia. Things are different here.”
She does not, however, have a problem saying that she supported Mosaica over Foundations for one reason only.
“I’m just speaking for myself,” Washington said, “but I felt that Mosaica offered our children the best opportunity for a future outside of high school. I felt Mosaica had a better plan to broaden the horizons of our children. They were not interested in just getting our kids out the door. I felt that they were better equipped to make sure that my child would thrive and not just survive after high school.”
Then, Washington sighs. She starts to speak, then pauses again, clearly collecting her thoughts.
“Taking that from a parent — that’s a crime,” Washington says.
A citywide effort, spearheaded by the Parks and Recreation Department, continues to update citizens across Philadelphia about efforts to make the streets free and safe from illegal ATVs.
On Wednesday night, at a community meeting at 250 South 63rd Street, Commissioner Mike DiBerardinis continued to update residents about what the commission, which replaced the old Fairmount Park Commission, is doing
“It’s an ongoing process,” DiBerardinis said, “but the hope is to continue to have the violators of the city respect the laws of the city. It’s for their safety and other citizens as well.”
The meeting was the second such meeting this fall. Earlier this year, at a meeting in Tacony Park, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Water Department and the Department of Parks and Recreation announced that they were making great strides in ridding the city of the illegal, four-wheel vehicles.
The profile of the lawbreakers is almost always the same: young men seeking a thrill who carelessly maneuver the vehicles through city streets, popping wheelies and revving the engines to an annoying level.
Make no mistake about it; it is illegal to drive the vehicles on city streets. And many of the vehicles are stolen, according to police. But the city will continue its efforts through the winter to continue to reduce the problem.
“If an ATV operator is stopped by police, the penalty is a traffic ticket — and of course they have to appear in traffic court. But if the ATV is stolen or if the operator resists arrest then they face other charges,” said Tasha Jamerson, spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
“It’s true, they are illegal to be operated on the city streets. They’re not designed for that and certainly not designed to be driven at breakneck speed, which you often see a lot of riders doing,” said Sgt. Robert Gramlich of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Accident Investigation Division. “They’re supposed to be registered, but I would say that in the city, 99 percent of them are not. They are either stolen or otherwise being used without the owners’ permission. Most of the ones we see that are involved in accident investigations are stolen.”
According to statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division, the number of four-wheeled ATVs in use across the nation has increased from just over 2 million to more than 6.9 million over the past decade. From 1982 through 2004, there were almost 6,500 deaths involving ATVS. In 2004 alone, an estimated 136,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ATV related injuries; many of those injuries were life-altering. In 2003, an estimated 740 people died nationwide in ATV incidents. About 30 percent of all deaths and injuries from ATV accidents involve children younger than 16.
Across the state, there are a number of regulations regarding the operation of ATVs:
*All ATVs must be titled and registered, with the owner receiving one numbered plate.
*No ATV shall be operated without a lighted headlight and taillight from ½ hour after sun set to ½ hour before sunrise.
* Registration is to be renewed once every two years.
No one under age 8 shall operate an ATV on state-owned land.
*No one between 8 and 15 may operate an ATV unless on a parent’s land or in possession of a safety training certificate.
*No one under 16 may cross a highway or operate an ATV on designated roads unless in possession of safety certificate and with an adult 18 or over.
*ATV use on any street or highway is prohibited, except to cross and except for roads designated at ATV roads.
With three months remaining in her term, Denise McGregor Armbrister has resigned from her post on the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.
A gubernatorial appointment, Armbrister, appointed in 2008 by Governor Ed Rendell, said she was stepping down early in hopes that a new and fully-complemented commission could be appointed as soon as possible. With Commonwealth appointments – of which there are three – there must be a vacancy before the state Senate confirmation process can commence. When she was appointed in 2008 her confirmation took almost five months.
“I’m hoping this will expedite the process, that a fifth commission member will be named and the confirmation process can quickly begin,” Armbrister said. “It is complex and it is time consuming, it is a lot of work.
“I want to say that I felt honored and humbled to take on this responsibility,” Armbrister, speaking of her tenure, continued “I owe a great deal of gratitude to my fellow commissioners. Hopefully the new and reconstituted commission can be put in place and the SRC can go about the very crucial job of providing the children in the school district the best possible education.”
It has been a time of huge changes within the SRC. Last month former Chairman Robert L. Archie and Johnny Irizarry both resigned. A little over a week ago, Mayor Michael Nutter appointed Lorene Cary to the SRC. And in Sept., Nutter also named Rutgers University-Camden Chancellor Wendell Pritchett to the SRC.
Gov. Tom Corbett named former City Solicitor Pedro Ramos as his choice to replace Archie as the SRC chair. However, Ramos is still awaiting state Senate confirmation. Some have speculated, Ramos included, that he might not be confirmed until Thanksgiving.
Ramos was president of the city's old Board of Education when it was replaced by the SRC in 2001. He is believed to be a strong advocate for Philadelphia’s schoolchildren. Joseph Dworetzky, whose term expires in 2014, is a gubernatorial appointment.
Armbrister rattled off the multiple tasks awaiting the SRC.
“The most important thing is that they continue the upward trajectory in achievement in the classroom,” Armbrister said. "They’ve got the facilities master plan on the table. And there has been success with Imagine 2014. That’s just to name a few.”
NAACP, ACLU steamed over rejection of justice reform billboard
The Philadelphia International Airport’s refusal to display an advertisement promoting criminal justice reform has resulted in a lawsuit filed by the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
The parties assert that by refusing to accept an advertisement, which highlights America’s high incarceration rate, the airport has violated First Amendment rights. The suit was filed Wednesday.
“The walls of Philadelphia International Airport are public space, and city officials do not have the right to suppress any group’s viewpoint based on their own beliefs or political considerations,” said NAACP General Counsel Kim Keenan. “Our First Amendment right to free speech is just as strong as that of the U.S.O., the World Wildlife Federation or any other advocacy group that has graced the walls of the airport,” Keenan said, referring to ads from other organizations that the city accepted.
The city claimed that the ad had been rejected because it does not accept “issue” or “advocacy” advertisements at the airport. However, the airport has accepted numerous other ads relating to political and social issues. The lawsuit is also against Clear Channel Outdoor, which handles advertising for Philadelphia’s airport, because the company acts on behalf of the city.
The NAACP’s rejected advertising says, “Welcome to America, home to 5 percent of the world’s people & 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Let’s build a better America together.” The ads are part of a public awareness campaign surrounding the NAACP’s “Misplaced Priorities” report, which explores the connection between high incarceration rates and poorly performing schools.
“The government cannot pick and choose which speech it deems acceptable and which it does not,” said Chris Hansen, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “The fact that the airport accepted some political issue ads but not the NAACP’s shows the arbitrary nature of the city’s unwritten and undefined policy. It is a clear violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against the government favoring some speakers over others. ”
The report is part of the NAACP’s “Smart and Safe” campaign, an initiative designed to reform the nation’s criminal justice system. The report offers recommendations to help policymakers downsize prison populations and shift the savings to education budgets.
“We need to be ‘smart on crime’ rather than ‘tough on crime,’ and address soaring incarceration rates in this country,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous. “Failing schools, college tuition hikes and shrinking state education budgets are narrowing the promise of education for young people all across the country. Meanwhile, allocations for our incarceration system continue to increase, sending our youth the wrong message about the future.”
ACLU staff attorney Mary Catherine Roper called the case a freedom-of-speech issue.
“When the government is deciding who gets to speak and who doesn’t get to speak, that really shouldn’t turn on whether the subject of the speech is controversial,” Roper said.
Mark McDonald, press secretary for the mayor’s office, said the mayor does not comment on pending litigation.