Testimony of Coleman Poses to the BOE, January 17, 2019

Dear members of the board, Congratulations. Last month you accomplished the impossible – you found a way to crawl beneath the extremely low bar set by the SRC – by reversing its decision to close Richard Allen Charter.

The caliber of reasoning of this board can only be compared with the quality of instruction at Richard Allen. Consider the rationale that since so many children attend this charter, Richard Allen deserved to maintain its operation. By this logic, we should support the continuation of the opioid epidemic because these drugs are so popular. The irony here is that Richard Allen would actually be accomplishing a greater social good if enrollment were down , leaving fewer children exposed to the quality of instruction at the charter.

Some Board members might have also felt threatened by a possible lawsuit, which could cost the district as much as $500,000. Half a million dollars, however, sounds like a bargain when you think of the millions lost by the school district every year in keeping Richard Allen open. In only 2 ½ years, the board would recoup its legal fees in what it would gain by not paying the CEO’s $200,000 annual compensation. If I were a member of the Board, I would worry more about being sued from current and former Richard Allen families than by the charter itself. I also believe that the Board has a better chance of winning a lawsuit against Richard Allen than the other way around. For starters, the Board could sue for Richard Allen’s failure to fulfill the terms of its contract and every other agreement that this charter has had with the school district.

It is difficult to understand the ideological underpinnings of your rationale. It certainly contradicts the free market philosophy that charter schools and school choice are based upon. In the theoretical educational free market, the best teachers and the best schools are rewarded for a job well done. By contrast, your actions have rewarded incompetence.

By current law, any member of this board can be removed by the Mayor with the consent of City Council. Elections for these positions will be held next November. Your behavior, your ability to reason, or your lack thereof; and how the candidates feel about your competence will be a litmus test for many of the educational activists in this City. We’ll be watching.