by Lynda Rubin
This hearing presented two new charter applications to the Board: Heath and Science Leadership Academy Charter (HS2L) to be located at 5210 Broad Street, and String Theory/Joan Meyers Brown (JMB) Charter School to be located in Wynnefield.
Despite the fact that this was the first of only two hearings on these applications, and that this was the only one of the two at which public testimony will be heard, the date for this hearing was set for Friday, December 20th, at 4:00 pm–for many the last day before the extended Christmas holiday. APPS members, in testimony at the December Board meeting and in emails to the District, protested this date. The Board did not accede to this request, stating that they were hemmed in by the State’s deadline and that public testimony could be submitted in writing.
Community Fights to Be Heard
Real public engagement means not only allowing educators, parents and community members to attend meetings and speak on important issues, but encouraging them to do so. Putting a banner on the website (2 clicks in) is hardly a substitute for real outreach from the Board. Being heard and seen as a unified force is far more powerful, obviously, then sending in written testimony seen by a few people. Organizing by APPS and others brought out local school principals, District staff, neighborhood organizations and others who spoke in opposition to both new charters.