By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s new “portfolio model” of school governance came in for some harsh criticism at the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference being held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Opponents of the model far outnumbered its supporters.READ MORE: Leaders Sounding Alarm About COVID-19 'Vaccine Desert' In South Philadelphia
The term “portfolio” comes from the investment world, where it refers to a group of stocks. The model’s biggest proponent, Mark Gleason of the Philadelphia School Partnership, says it translates to keeping high-performing schools and closing low-performers.
“Schools shouldn’t have a right to exist,” Gleason says. “The right in America should be that students have a right to an education.”
Gleason spoke on a conference panel on the challenges facing the city’s schools and found himself at odds with just about every other panelist and most of the audience. Panelist Hiram Rivera of Philadelphia student union says the model has no place in education.READ MORE: Man Found Dead Lying In Blood Inside Burning Somerton Home, Philly Police Say
“Students aren’t resources,” he says. “They’re human beings with personalities, with goals, with dreams and hopes.”
In the audience, Susan Gobreski of Education Voters agreed. She says treating schools like businesses will create more serious problems than the district has now.
“Just like grocery stores don’t serve some communities, there are food desserts out there,” Gobreski says. “If we do that, we’re going to have school desserts.”MORE NEWS: Delaware Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons Join 6 Other Democrats To Vote Against $15 Minimum Wage
Gobreski says poverty is the core problem in local schools, something the portfolio model doesn’t address.