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. 

To continue reading click here.

Applicants Pitch Five New Charter Schools: December 21, 2020

by Lynda Rubin 

As in any drama or comedy, the cast of characters hints at things to come.The 2020 presentation of new charter applications brought back the same privatizing cast, some with different names, who continue the weakening of Philadelphia public education for their own financial and political gain. This is the annual attempt to expand the companies’ existing charter companies with the funding and protection of non-profits. The organizations behind the new charters may be non-profit in tax terms, but they are backed by for-profit edu-investors whose goal is to take the public out of public education.

For years, Philadelphia has been a Ground Zero for carrying out the ideology of the wealthy proponents of school choice.  Charter companies made many promises but produced few actual gains. Charter operators, with the collaboration of the SRC and the Board, have eluded meaningful oversight for over two decades. 

Click here to continue reading about the new applications hearing.

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