Resolution 70: New Charter Application Evaluation Report 2020-21

Philadelphia Collegiate Charter School for Boys

(Resubmitted May 6, 2021)                        

Remarks to Board of Education–Thursday, June 24, 2021

by Barbara McDowell Dowdall

There is no apparent reason to urge you to reject the re-submission of the application by Philadelphia Collegiate Charter School for Boys. You need only to have read the report by your Charter School Office, which makes clear, but does not solve, any puzzlement residents of Northwest Philadelphia might have over why they would welcome an entity whose authors show so little respect for our school district and families in both its original and revised applications.

Residents and school district families would, by contrast, most certainly welcome the restoration of fully-resourced libraries with Certified Teacher Librarians, a reliable and essential feature in suburban schools in counties surrounding ours (like Merion Elementary where folks from POWER Interfaith marched the two miles from Samuel Gompers on Monday) and in the numerous private schools within our borders (including the one attended by this evening’s guest speaker, Mayor Jim Kenney). 

Once again, the essential value of this key to student achievement is confirmed in well-documented research that…suggests that an instructional school library program under the direction of a certified teacher librarian results in higher standardized test scores in both reading and writing and higher graduation rates than in schools without librarians.

Further, our most vulnerable learners – those who are economically-disadvantaged, Hispanic, Black, and those with disabilities– benefit proportionally more than all students combined in schools with school librarians. The absence of this professionally-staffed and fully-resourced treasure further cements the inequity that our own system seems to have mastered and clung to with remarkable consistency.

    By rejecting the resubmitted charter application in Resolution 70, you will save the funds that can now be used to bring back libraries with librarians in the schools in the zip codes (19119, 19126, 19138, 19140, 19144, 19150) identified by our friend from Baltimore as prime for a radical infusion of quality: Martin Luther King, Roosevelt, Emlen, Lingelbach, John B. Kelly, Fitler, Henry, Houston, AB Day, Edmonds, Wagner, Kenderton, Cayuga, Clemente, Edison, McClure, Munoz-Marin, Rowen, Steel, and Taylor. And right after that, the other one hundred and ninety-five schools similarly bereft and worthy.