by Lisa Haver
Three weeks from now, at its February 25 Action Meeting, the Board will vote to accept or reject applications for five new charter schools. APPS members, who have analyzed the applications and attended both rounds of hearings, call on the Board to deny all five.
The Board’s January Action Meeting did not include a presentation from the Charter Schools Office on the applications. The Board has abolished its committees. Thus, community members will have only two minutes to speak on the issue just minutes before the Board votes in February. Public speakers were given only two minutes each to be heard at the first hearing; no public testimony was heard at the second. In contrast, charter applicants have hours of time to sell their applications, not including private communications with the District. As in previous years, APPS had to file a formal Right to Know Request in order to see the attachments, which contains most of the budget, curriculum, and staffing information.
APPS’ analyses reveal serious deficiencies in all facets of the applications, many echoed by Charter Schools Office staff during the hearings. None of the applicants makes a strong case for approval. In addition, the surprising lack of preparation and knowledge about their own applications displayed in more than one of the hearings did little to instill confidence in their ability to operate schools and educate the children of Philadelphia.