Testimony of Ilene Blitzstein Poses to the BOE on January 17, 2019

America loves its slogans – Make American Great, Just Say No, No Child Left Behind, Charters give us Choice.

But it seems that the slogans are mostly simplistic words that hide the complicated truth.

Let’s look at some of the facts about charters:

Charters do not offer ‘choice’ to parents.  Charters choose its students. That’s why they have fewer ESL and special education students, more expulsions and some charters have segregated schools that do not reflect the diversity in their community.

Charters do not perform better than district schools in most instances. As Florina Rodov writes in The Truth about Charter Schools for the Atlantic – “only a handful perform better than public schools, while most do the same – or worse.”

This performance is not surprising, since most charters hire inexperienced staff and have high staff turnover.  This is also true for principal turnover. The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium research completed by Matthew Steinberg from the University of Pennsylvania found that there is 35% turnover for principals in charters and 24% in district schools.  thirty-one percent of the principals in charters were first year principals while only 12% of the principals were first year principals in district schools. This leads to more instability in the schools which is bad for student achievement.

Ten charter CEOs, according to the most recent tax information are paid over $200,000 in salary and compensation and all of these schools have SPR achievement ratings in the Intervene category.  These salaries are decided by the boards of the individual charters using our public tax dollars.

The charter school office is understaffed so there is limited oversight to charters.  Memphis Street Charter, Richard Allen Charter, Aspira Schools are allowed to continue despite failing academic achievement, poor finances and organizational infractions.  Florina Rodov writes “if they are to continue, charter schools need to be better regulated so that they don’t become cesspools of corruption.”

Lastly the SDP cannot afford any more charters.  The Board has no control over charter rentals, management fees nor public access to the financial records of charters which profit from the charter system.  One third of the district budget goes to charter schools. Even the Chicago Public Schools recently closed two charters for poor performance and denied bids to open 3 new charters according to the Tribune on Dec. 3, 2018.

  • If a new slogan is required then try listening to this one:

Channeling The Supremes –

Stop in the name of kids,

New charters you should forbid.

Think it over.

Try smaller classes, environmentally safe schools, libraries, the arts, support staff to improve our schools!

 

 

 

View story at Medium.com

 

View story at Medium.com