Diane Payne testimony to the SRC – February 16, 2016

Diane Payne SRC 1-21-16

Commissioners, you have 12 charter applications before you today. You are going to vote to approve or deny each application. I would like to ask you each a question:

Additional charter school expansion of any kind will lessen the financial resources available to children in city public schools. Is this a true statement or false?

Commissioner Green?

Commissioner Simms?

Commissioner Houston?

Commissioner Neff?

Commissioner Jimenez?

The public record of these remarks now notes that there was no answer from the commissioners on this crucial question.

Based on information presented this week in the Notebook in Kevin McCorry’s article (New Charter Schools Could Cost the District Millions More Than Expected) and calculations by previous commissioner Joseph Dworetzky who also calculated the negative financial impact on students remaining in public schools (Analyzing the Role of Charter School Funding in the District’s Budget Problems), the financial harm to students remaining in Philly public schools is real. A vote to approve additional charter school seats is a vote of harm to the children remaining in public schools. A vote to approve is an abdication of your duty to improve the academic and financial well being of our city’s public schools. Equating new charters as a fix for public education is just giving up on public education. Charters are creating a two-tiered system. They are adding to the demise of our public schools and adding to the demise of the “common good.”

The law requiring you to ignore finances in the charter school application process is a regressive, harmful law. I wonder to what level you will stoop when voting to approve charter expansion in order to satisfy the flawed dialogue of reformsters. Bad laws need to be identified as such and fought against to change – not used as an excuse to continue abusive behavior.