Applications Dialed In?

Testimony of Lynda Rubin to the BOE, February 25, 2021

First, Welcome New Board Members.

I’m speaking tonight on my opposition to the approval of any new charter schools – “Our distressed schools just can’t afford them”, but especially because these applications are simply sub-par – as noted in the Charter School Office reports.

But I’d like to take just a second to comment on your attempts to control and limit the Board’s hearing and airing of public input. Number one, it’s wrong. It’s also detrimental to the education of our students.

Now: Charter Applications:

Our District cannot afford to outsource any more dollars that will be taken from our neediest schools and students. Uri Monson continually states the ever-growing costs of charter schools’ comprise the District’s biggest fiscal concern.

These new applications feel like they’re being dialed in. The CSO’s evaluations cite many inadequacies for all 5 applications – unfamiliarity with the neighborhood, administrators’ lack of knowledge of specific education practices, much less the needs of real children with differing abilities.

These applications are big on PR promises for innovative, student centered programs and fantabulous progress, that have not been borne out in their existing schools. Their choices to fill school leadership positions have limited, if any, experience in those positions, and whose schools did not make impressive progress.

Aspira, Inc. has two new applications. Their citing of two schools currently in Non-Renewal status as points of pride and including financial practices that imply continued improprieties, is just flabbergasting.

The Five Smooth Stones backers of Collegiate School for Boys want to plant their flag of a K-12 school in Philadelphia, despite only fair progress at their Baltimore Elementary School.

Empowerment School’s changing their location from Gray’s Ferry to Logan belies any commitment to a neighborhood. Their use of Jounce Partners’ debunked, strict No Excuses policy and highly repetitive teaching, especially for children who’ve experienced trauma, should be a non-starter.

Pride Academy – Their application is long on edu-jargon and short on specifics. They throw around the name Project- Based Learning, but use curriculum materials not suited for it. The lone founding member who will be the school’s leader has no principal experience and 10 years at a not so successful charter school.

None of these schools should be approved.