High School of Health Sciences Leadership Charter School: New Application Report

by Lisa Haver, Deborah Grill, Lynda Rubin 

Clearly Inadequate Application Should Result in Board Rejection

High School of Health Sciences leadership Charter School (HS2L) 

Proposed Location: 5210 North Broad Street (former Holy Child School)
Neighborhood: Logan
Grades:  9—12
Enrollment:  150 students Year one; 600 students at scale, Year 5
Estimated cost to District for first 5-year term:  $29, 111, 817. 
Estimated stranded costs to District:  $11, 524, 500.

Founding Coalition Members

  • Tim Matheney, Charter School Consultant, CEO Spire Leadership Group
  • Sharifa Edwards, Manager of School Investments, Philadelphia School Partnership
  • April Gonzalez, [consultant] Spire Leadership Group
  • Kenric Chua, Creative Arts Director, Spire Leadership Group
  • Geordie Brackin, CEO, Brackin Placement Group

Proposed Board Members

  • Laura Siminoff, Dean, School of Public Health, Temple University
  • Geordie Brackin, CEO, Brackin Placement Group
  • Janine Yass, Vice-chair, Center on Education Reform
  • Sharif El-Mekki, CEO, Center for Black Educator Development, former Mastery Charter administrator
  • Candace Kenyatta, Managing Partner, Grovider
  • Tim Matheney (ex-officio), CEO, HS2L

Does the District Need A Health Sciences Charter School?

Once you get past the flowery rhetoric of the opening narrative, it quickly becomes clear that this application contains very little of the advertised creativity and innovation.  The High School of Health Sciences Leadership Charter School (HS2L) would be yet another data-driven school measuring success by standardized test scores, with a curriculum that includes blended learning and test-prep to boost those scores. It invokes rigor, grit and differentiated learning.  The curriculum relies more on packaged learning products than the expertise of teachers. HS2L proposes a CTE (Career and Technical Education)  program that differs little from the CTE schools and programs offered in District public schools. And how innovative would any school be that offers “Building Grit through Art and Music”?

The application itself provides many reasons for Board denial, but serious issues arose even before the application was submitted.  Principal Nimet Eren and teachers from Kensington Health Science Academy, a neighborhood high school, testified at two separate meetings at the Board of Education in December that representatives from the applicant’s front group, the Philadelphia School Partnership, had come into their school under false pretenses, and through repeated deception, took information about the school’s methods and programs to use as the basis for its application.  Is stealing ideas from another school “innovative”? In addition to denying the application, the Board of Education should be considering legal action for theft of intellectual property against PSP and the members of HS2L’s founding coalition. The institutions named as partners–including Jefferson, Temple, Community College, and PCOM–should disavow these fraudulent tactics.

Read the rest of the report here.

Defenders of Public Education speak at the New Charter Applications Hearing, December 20, 2019

Click on the individual’s name to read a transcript of his or her testimony

 Topic: High School of Health Sciences Leadership Charter School Application (HS2L)

Monique Adkins

Susan L. DeJarnatt

Lisa Haver

Angela Iovine

Maddie Luebbert

Erika McFadden

Bob Nelson

Sally O’Brien

Coleen Orr

Ilene Poses

Emanuel Ramos

Lynda Rubin

Topics: HS2L and Joan Myers Brown Academy

Karel Kilimnik

Stephanie King

New Charter Application Hearing: Friday, December 20, 2019

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.

Click here to read the rest of the report

People for People Applies for Second High School: Frederick Douglass Charter High School

By Lisa Haver

Frederick Douglass Charter High School
700 North Broad Street and 1415 Fairmount Avenue    19130
Francisville
Enrollment:  Year 1, 2019-20— Grades 9-10, 250 students; Year 5— 500 students in grades 9-12
Cost to SDP for 5-year term:  $29,741,677

Members of the People for People (PFP) organization have applied to open an additional high school, Frederick Douglass Charter High School (FDCHS), at two different locations—700 No. Broad Street and 1415 Fairmount Avenue.
The opening narrative of the application enumerates issues that hinder student achievement, including “pervasive poverty…poor housing conditions….single parent households”, then goes on to imply that granting this application would solve those problems: “…FDCHS will be founded to serve as the innovative high school educational arm of People for People, Inc.—a community development corporation devoted to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in the lives of North Central Philadelphia residents by providing them with positive alternatives to gangs, drugs, welfare, and crime.”  The application states that allowing PFP to open a new charter will help to “break the cycle of intergenerational poverty”. It’s a lofty goal, and one that its existing charter, in operation for 17 years, has not made a dent in. The narrative asserts: “FDCHS will enroll students of all abilities and needs. Our goal is to ensure our students’ academic growth is consistently higher than the national average during the charter term.” That is doubtful in light of the fact that PFP has failed to do so in its existing school.

Concerns cited by the Charter Schools Office at the January 22 hearing include:

  • Application lacks specific detail in many sections
  • Text-messaging program is not coupled with human social workers
  • Insufficient evidence of clear academic approach to subgroups
  • Budgetary concerns
  • Use of two addresses:  1415 Fairmount and 700 N. Broad
  • Neither building is ready for use as a school
  • Three members of Founding Coalition are employed by existing operator or related entities
  • Section on Founding Coalition in application not complete
  • There is no gym in the proposed floor plan
  • Amount of credits required for graduation would be hard for students to complete
  • In general, application failed to present compelling case for new charter

Click here to read the rest of the report