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

Eyes on the Board of Education: February 25, 2021

by Lisa Haver

“In addition to having ending points and ending dates for the interim guardrails, the Board has adopted interim guardrail ending points for each year leading up to the ending date.” From the Board of Education’s Goals and Guardrails

Three new Board members will be seated at this remote Action Meeting.  Each will likely make a speech about their backgrounds, beliefs and positions on education issues.  In a democracy, people should hear this before casting their vote for the candidates they want to represent them.  But Philadelphians remain disenfranchised, in more ways than one. We cannot vote for our School Board members. The Mayor shuts the public out of the entire Nominating Process. City Council lobs softball questions at the nominees at its confirmation hearing.  Who is listening to the parents, students, educators and community members?

At its January Action Meeting, the Board cut off almost every speaker mid-sentence. The Board, apparently in agreement with member Julia Danzy, caught on a hot mic last summer complaining about how many people had signed up to speak, got busy finding ways to shut out District parents, students, educators and community members. Without a public vote, and without any prior notice or explanation, the Board cut back every speaker’s time from three minutes to two. The Board also limited the number of speakers at every meeting, no matter the number of Items on the agenda. They voted, again without explanation or deliberation, to abolish two more of its Committees, thus eliminating the venues that they established with the promise of more dialogue with the community.

Click here to continue reading.

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.

Defenders of Public Education Speak Before the BOE, January 28, 2021

Click on the title to read the transcript of the speaker’s testimony

It is Time for a Change by Dana Carter

Restoration of School Libraries with Certified Teacher Librarians (CTL’s) by Barbara McDowell Dowdall

Goals and Guardrails Do Not Hold Hite Accountable by Lisa Haver

Community Disengagement Explodes by Karel Kilimnik

Data Dazzle with New Glossary, or Equity? by Robin Lowry

Action Item 16: Spending $300K on a Program to Help Schools “Keep Track” of PBIS Points and Rewards by Kristin Luebbert

Simplify the Student Name Change Process by Maddie Luebbert

“Demotion” of the Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs by Dr. Cheri Michaeu

Silencing Voices of Philadelphians Who Care about Their Public Schools by Diane Payne

It’s the same old song, with the same old meaning, and it’s still plain wrong [wasting $300,000 on positive motivation program] by Ilene Poses

So Very Many Things Wrong, So Many Excuses by Zoe Rooney

Limiting Public Testimony in the Wake of Reopening Schools by Sonia Rosen

Action Item 16 Contracts with Motivating Systems LLC and Kickboard, Inc. by Lynda Rubin