Diane Payne’s testimony before the SRC – February 8, 2017

diane-payne-src-2-8-17

You have received applications, held hearings, are now listening to speakers both for and against and will shortly vote on whether to grant charters for three new schools. I am asking that you vote NO.

SRC Commissioners regularly point out that the charter school law does not allow them to consider financial harm when deciding whether to accept or reject an applicant. They repeatedly inform us that they can only consider the merits of the applicant. So, I propose that you look at that law, your place in history with that law and the merits of these applications. As a nation, we have sadly been at the mercy of many bad laws that have been used to create harm. As communities we have enforced those bad laws to the determent of not just those harmed by the law but to our greater good as a nation. Simply looking to laws of segregation can illustrate how easy that happens, the pain and harm it causes a particular group and the greater harm it causes us as a nation.

We are looking at a bad law when we look at our state’s charter school law. This is not just my opinion but stated by multiple sources much more influential than myself.

(http://abc27.com/2016/09/22/pa-fiscal-watchdog-says-pa-has-worst-charter-school-law-in-us/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/20/a-dozen-problems-with-charter-schools/?utm_term=.3bce2f28b3c9

http://educationvoterspa.org/blog/pennsylvanias-charter-school-law-must-be-reformed/

http://thenotebook.org/articles/2016/06/10/seeking-accountability-states-revise-charter-laws)

who cite flaws in the law that span financial, academic performance, accountability and transparency concerns. This bad charter school law does in fact create great harm. It harms the children in our public schools who are left with starvation budgets directly impacted by the expansion of charters. Not to mention how some neighborhoods in our city have become public school deserts with no neighborhood public school for children to attend. The District’s Charter School Office has raised its own significant concerns about all three applicants. http://www.philly.com/philly/education/Philly-charter-office-raises-questions-about-proposed-schools.html

The only reasonable way to approve any further charter school applications AND stand on the just side of history would be to only approve a charter that clearly had all the verifiable data that established the applicant’s clear possession of the silver bullet to academic success, financial uprightness, solid accountability measures and glass like transparency. None of today’s applicants demonstrate the silver bullet litmus test. Your vote today should be a resounding NO.

I have a question today, why does the CSO make recommendations on charter renewals but not new applications even though they did a very good job in the hearings and information submitted? Diane Payne dpayne34@msn.com