by Deborah Grill, Lisa Haver and Diane Payne
This district opened its first charter school in 1998. Every year, those lobbying for and profiting from the privatization of public schools have promised to improve education for the city’s children. They said that the district had an obligation to create charters for the good of the children and the community. Twenty-five years later, we can see that the charter experiment foisted upon the city and its families has failed. Because of the backing of well-funded PACs and special interest groups, with their increasing political influence, charters have avoided accountability to the same communities they made 6their promises to.
The district has had many years to learn that the aspirational language of charter apps is rarely achieved. Charter renewal evaluations don’t measure whether the schools have fulfilled their promises of innovation; they cite standardized test scores and other data.
To read the reports on the applications click here
New Charter Applications Hearing: December 20, 2022
by Lynda Rubin
Four charter applicants, all of whom are currently operating charter schools that have failed to meet academic and other standards, have applied to the School District of Philadelphia to operate more. The opening hearing is a pro-forma “public” event in which charter representatives are each given 15 minutes to explain the mission of their proposed schools, with the district providing technical support for the on-screen presentations. Members of the public, on the other hand, are given only two minutes each to state their positions for or against the creation of new charter schools. The Board of Education seems to have gone out of its way to exclude the public from this hearing. They posted the legally required notice, in very small print, in the classified section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but they posted no notice on the district’s website in any banner on the board’s page nor the charter schools page. APPS members and others with previous knowledge of this process hunted through the website, finally locating a small notice in the board’s calendar. Despite the fact that all board meetings have been held in person for over a year, and that all district schools and offices are open, the board is holding all charter hearings via zoom. Why? In-person meetings have always been considered more informative, since presenters to a live audience are more engaging for all. They also provide an opportunity for people on both sides of the issue to organize and bring a unified message, as members of the Kensington Health Sciences Academy did in 2019. Their actions garnered community support and media attention. When the Board decides arbitrarily not to have fully public hearings, they are using yet another means to impose their speaker suppression policies. Our December 15 letter to the Board asked for fully public hearings: “Consideration for charter applicants and operators should not take precedence over the rights of the community to be fully present and to express their support or opposition to new charter applications as both individuals and organizations.” The Board has not replied.
by Deborah Grill, Lisa Haver and Diane Payne
Every new charter school application is a budgetary and community assault on our current public school system as every charter school represents an unfunded state mandate. The charter school experiment concocted over twenty years ago–an experiment on mostly poor, urban, black and brown children–has failed. Clearly inadequate applications should be rejected at the outset. But the PA Charter law mandates that every application be reviewed and evaluated by the district’s staff, then reviewed for approval or denial by the elected or appointed board. Thus clearly inadequate and inexperienced applicants like Entrepreneurial Charter and perennial applicants like Aspira force the School District of Philadelphia to spend inordinate amounts of time and money for a months-long process. Despite the failure of these applicants to present a credible proposal to educate Philadelphia’s children, the Charter Schools Office (CSO) must read and analyze lengthy applications with hundreds of pages of attachments, present a thorough and detailed evaluation, and participate in extensive and costly legal hearings–with the city’s taxpayers footing the bill for hearing officers, attorneys, court reporters, and reams of documents.
The District cannot afford any new charter schools. The District does not need any new charter schools. The Board should reject all three new charter applications.
Please let the Board know at the action meeting on February 24 or March 3, in written testimony or in testimony by March 2, that they must vote to deny all of these applications.
Aspira Bilingual Business, Finance, and Technology Charter High School
Aspira Eugenio Maria de Hostos Preparatory Charter School
Philadelphia Entrepreneurial Development Academy Charter High School