Board Must Reject All New Charter School Applications

by Deborah Grill, Lisa Haver and Diane Payne

Every new charter school application is a budgetary and community assault on our current public school system as every charter school represents an unfunded state mandate. The charter school experiment concocted over twenty years ago–an experiment on mostly poor, urban, black and brown children–has failed. Clearly inadequate applications should be rejected at the outset. But the PA Charter law mandates that every application be reviewed and evaluated by the district’s staff, then reviewed for approval or denial by the elected or appointed board. Thus clearly inadequate and inexperienced applicants like Entrepreneurial Charter and perennial applicants like Aspira force the School District of Philadelphia to spend inordinate amounts of time and money for a months-long process. Despite the failure of these applicants to present a credible proposal to educate Philadelphia’s children, the Charter Schools Office (CSO)  must read and analyze lengthy applications with hundreds of pages of attachments, present a thorough and detailed evaluation, and participate in extensive and costly legal hearings–with the city’s taxpayers footing the bill for  hearing officers, attorneys, court reporters, and reams of documents. 
The District cannot afford any new charter schools. The District does not need any new charter schools.  The Board should reject all three new charter applications.

Please let the Board know at the action meeting on February 24 or March 3, in written testimony or in testimony by March 2, that they must vote to deny all of these applications.

Aspira Bilingual Business, Finance, and Technology Charter High School

Aspira Eugenio Maria de Hostos Preparatory Charter School

Philadelphia Entrepreneurial Development Academy Charter High School

Board Rejects All Five Charter Applications

by Lynda Rubin

All Board members attended this special meeting, including the three recently inducted members.  There were just five items on the agenda:  to approve or deny new charter applications. In unanimously denying all five applications, the Board took seriously the concerns raised in both the evaluations of the Charter Schools Office (CSO)  and the APPS reports that analyzed the applications and researched the applicant’s founders and investors.

Read more here.

Board Must Reject New Charter Applications

At 5 p.m on March 4, the Board will hold a special hearing to 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 has rejected, with good reason,  all of the new charter applications before them since 2018.  The Board has been presented with five clearly inadequate applications this year.  Aspira has submitted two, despite their failure, every year, to meet standards in their Renaissance charters.

The Board will not have the Charter Schools Office make a presentation on their findings until minutes before they vote at the special hearing.  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 in December;  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  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 shocking lack of preparation and knowledge about their own applications displayed in most of the hearings did little to instill confidence in their ability to operate schools and educate the children of Philadelphia.

The Board has raised the possibility of closing neighborhood schools and laying off teachers and support staff. The virus has devastated the local economy; tax revenues to the District will continue to decline.  The District does not need any new charter schools. The District cannot afford any more charter schools. The Board must reject all of these charter applications.

These charters, if approved, would cost the District approximately $245, 259, 998 in direct allotments and approximately $73, 543, 345 in stranded costs.

Please let the Board know, in written testimony or in testimony at the Action Meeting, that they must vote to deny all of these applications.

ASPIRA Charter Schools by Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin

Empowerment Charter School by Deborah Grill

Philadelphia Collegiate Charter School for Boys by Karel Kilimnik

Pride Academy Charter School by Diane Payne

Board Must Reject New Charter Applications

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. 

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