Philadelphia’s Proposed New Charter School Reports: February 22, 2018

SRC 1-18-18

by Lisa Haver
February 14, 2018

On February 22, the  lame-duck School Reform Commission (SRC) will vote to accept or reject applications from seven charter companies: APM Community Charter School, Franklin Towne Charter Middle School, Mastery Charter Elementary, MaST Community Charter School,  Philadelphia Hebrew Charter School, Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Charter School and Eugenio Maria de Hostos Preparatory Charter School.  (Pennsylvania Institute Charter School withdrew its application at the hearing; Qor Charter withdrew its application subsequent to the hearing.)

APPS members have read and analyzed the applications, attended the hearings, researched the charter company and its officers, and examined the records of any existing schools the company operates in the district.

Those who scratch the surface of this process begin to realize the depth and breadth of the questions surrounding the funneling of tax dollars into institutions that are not “public” in the sense of serving the common good.  Dig further to discover highly paid top administration officials, cozy and complicated financial dealings, far from transparent or open organizational practices, and academics that are rarely superior to public schools.

In defense of a truly public education system that serves the common good as a cornerstone of democracy, APPS continues to delve into the facts and history of charters. Our tax dollars should be spent to improve the quality of education for all of our students and should not be spent on a wasteful, corrupt, two-tiered system made possible by those who benefit from the provisions in what PA Auditor General Anthony De Pasquale has called “the worst charter school law in the country”.

Following are the reports by APPS members along with written testimony submitted to the SRC.

APM Community Charter School

Aspira Inc: Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Charter School

Aspira Inc: Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School

Franklin Towne Middle Charter School

Philadelphia Hebrew Charter School

Mastery Charter Elementary School

MaST III Charter School


The School District of Philadelphia New Charter Applications

At its February 22, 2018 Charter Ratification meeting, the Philadelpia School Reform Commission denied six charters and approved one with conditions.

SRC denies six charters and approves one with conditions | Philadelphia Public School Notebook – February 22, 2018



Are Charters Under Attack? Facts Show Otherwise

Philadelphia charters

by Lisa Haver
January 30, 2018

Charter CEOs and supporters held a rally at City Hall on Tuesday January 30 to ask for a “seat at the table” when the new school board replaces the School Reform Commission. Several City Councilpersons attended the event, held in the Mayor’s Reception Room.

APPS members have said consistently that district budget problems stem not just from a lack of funding, but from the spending priorities of the SRC which keeps resources out of classrooms. Consulting fees, faux graduate school, training by outsourcing by unqualified and inexperienced people: Teach For America, The New Teacher Project, Relay Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, Boston Consulting, Jounce, Institute for Student Achievement, etc.

But the biggest waste of money in the SD budget is the funding of malfunctioning charters. Report after report, including the latest from Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), shows that district schools outperform charters. Charter supporters say that they only support “high-quality” charters, that they want the failing charters closed. But when they have the opportunity to prove that, they are nowhere to be found. Some examples:

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Who is Afton Partners?


by Ken Derstine
March 14, 2017

In a recently released report by Afton Partners, the cost of students leaving Philadelphia public schools to transfer to charters was examined. The study had been commissioned in February, 2015 by the School Reform Commission which functions as a school board and makes all final decisions for Philadelphia schools.

Click here to read the entire Afton report.

In “is the glass half full or half empty” coverage, the Philadelphia Inquirer published Report: Philly schools still face costs when students go to charters vs. the Philadelphia Public School Notebook’s Students leaving Philly schools for charters less costly than once thought.

According to The Notebook article, the resolution calling for the contract with Afton said the analysis would take place between February 20, 2015 and May 1, 2015. SRC officials claim the report “got lost in the shuffle as old administrators left and new administrators replaced them.” The District’s Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson, appointed February, 2016, said he first got word of the report last summer and has been working with Afton “to make sure the report addressed all questions.”

Why is the report being released now? Could it have something to do with a bill in the Pennsylvania House introduced by Speaker Mike Turzai on March 6th which would require the Philadelphia School District to add 3,000 charter seats per year? This bill would undercut the charter oversight authority of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC). The establishment of the SRC in 2001, as part of the state takeover of the School District, abolished local control of public schools, along with any hope of any type of democratic process. A 2014 bill passed by the legislature imposed a $2/pack cigarette tax for school funding; it included a last-minute provision that the SRC consider applications for new charters each fall.  Rejected applicants would be able to appeal to the state Charter Appeal Board.

Now, invoking the state rights’ provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Turzai wants to completely take even this oversight from any local influence. He has been aggressively intervening in the SRC’s charter approval process lobbying for approval of charters that the SRC has rejected. The SRC’s Uri Monson said the bill is unnecessary because in the SRC’s five-year financial plan presented last year there is an already projected annual growth of charter enrollment of between 2,700 and 3,000.

Click here to read the entire article.

Philadelphia Charter School Application Reports


January 23, 2017

The School District received five applications for new charters to open September 2017. One applicant has already dropped out. APPS members attended all four Charter School Hearings held on Thursday Jan 5 and Monday Jan 9th.  The SRC will vote on these applications on February 8th.  The Charter School Office will post its evaluation reports  on its website approximately one week before the vote.  We have researched each applicant. Links to our research follows this Executive Summary of issues and concerns.  The four applicants are Metropolitan Philadelphia Classical Charter School (MPCCS); Deep Roots Charter School (DRCS); Friendship Whittier Charter School (FWCS); and KIPP Charter School. Our reports are quite lengthy and detailed so we are highlighting some essential points.

* Three applicants have detailed Attachments that are inaccessible to the public.  Representatives  of the SRC office told APPS that we would have to file an official Right to Know request to access any of the attachments.  That would take months, and it would be unlikely that the district would release the information before the SRC votes in February.

*MPCCS and FWCS applicants are from outside of Philadelphia. FWCS and MPCCS have no connection to the intended community.

*All four applicants used pre-packaged, scripted curricular materials.

*3 out of 4 have limited or no parental involvement.

*FWCS and DRCS are opening in district school buildings closed due to under-enrollment.

*FWCS and DRCS have management contracts with outside businesses. The  FWCS management fee is 12% of its budget. This goes to the Charter Management Operator.

*All four are top heavy in management positions.

*Student privacy and the rights to student information are not addressed by any of these Charter Management Organizations.

*There is no job security for teachers at DRCS, KIPP, and FWCS. As it says in the KIPP Parkside Charter School application, employment “is “at-will” meaning that either the employee or the school may end the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice, with or without cause.” At MPCCS all teachers will be recruited from Hillsdale College. The College “considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture…”

To read the reports on individual charter applications click on the links below:

Deep Roots Charter School

Friendship Whittier Charter School

 KIPP Parkside Charter School

Metropolitan Philadelphia Classical Charter School

The School Reform Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, February 8th to consider and vote to grant or deny these new charter applications. The meeting will be at 4 p.m. in the auditorium at the 440 N. Broad Street. If you wish to speak you must register by calling the SDP Office of the SRC at 215-400-4010 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7th.