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.