The transcript of Diane Payne’s SRC testimony.

Diane Payne
Click the picture to view Diane’s testimony. It is at timestamp 26:09.

As a tax payer, I want to call upon you to consider my reasons for not using my tax dollars to fund any new charter schools.

In the past, members of this commission have used an interpretation of the charter school law that forces decisions based on the merits of the application and without consideration of financial harm to public school students. However, in 2014 and 2015, attorney, David Lapp of the Education Law Center testified before you and argued against this belief supplying legal defense for his position.

There is no denying that any further C.S. expansion will only increase the financial harm to our district’s children. I do not want my tax dollars contributing to the harm of public school students.

Both the City Controller and the state auditor general called the PA Charter School law one of the worst in the country. It is a BAD LAW that causes harm to children and I do not want my tax dollars supporting this harm.

This multi-tiered system lacks accountability or transparency. CEO salaries, circular real estate deals, management companies reaping profits, lack of information available for public scrutiny all create a system that defenders call choice but the reality is a golden cow on the tax payer dime and I do not want my tax dollars supporting golden cows at children’s expense.

It is our state’s mandate to provide a “thorough and efficient system of public education.” There is little to no proof that the growing charter school sector is doing that. In fact, a recent PCCY report points to the opposite, “Pennsylvania’s Charter Schools are not outperforming traditional public-schoolers” As noted in their report, I do not want my tax dollars supporting a 20 year experiment with no proof of overall success.

To look at just one of the nine new applicants, you see a rosy picture painted by the school. F.T.C. touts its academic excellence and awards. But, F.T.C. does not look like traditional public schools in the city. At the elementary school a whopping 83% are white compared to 14% district wide and the same is true in the categories of economically disadvantaged, ELL, and special ed; their numbers don’t compare to district wide numbers. So, the academic excellence comes at a price that as a tax payer I am not willing to support. I am not willing to support the $226,011 salary of this school’s CEO, Joseph Venditti, so that they can continue to use my tax money to increase a segregated group of schools. Somehow the system is being gamed.

I want my tax dollars to be spent on giving our public school students what they need for a “thorough and efficient education” and not in harming those students.