Testimony of Lisa Haver at the New Charter Applications Hearing, December 20, 2019

The District does not need any more charters. The District cannot afford any more charters. The District certainly does not need one claiming to be innovative when they have a program called “Building Grit thought Art and Music”. APPS members have read the application and the attachments. This is hardly an innovative program.

First: shame on the Board of Education for scheduling this hearing on a Friday evening 5 days before Christmas. Shame on the Board for not live-streaming it or videotaping it. Shame on them for holding it in this small room rather than in the auditorium, dividing the people fighting to defend public education once again.

Shame on PSP for carrying out a bait-and-switch on the teachers and administrators at KHSA. Some may remember that PSP carried out a similar operation at Blaine and Kelley schools in North Philadelphia 5 years ago—where the same teachers who welcomed PSP’s phony offer ended up forced out of the schools they had served for years. When you gain access to a school and its classrooms, and you garner information because you gain people’s trust, then you use that information against them—is that not fraud? When you take people’s ideas and their creations and programs and copy them for your own benefit—is that not theft of intellectual property? In the corporate world, it would be, and PSP is very much part of the corporate world.

Shame on Temple and Drexel and Osteopathic and Community College for being complicit in that deception. They are already back-pedaling in the media. But make no mistake–they are complicit in PSP’s deception and fraud. Shame on them for failing to become partners in the health science programs that many schools including KHSA, Southern, Swenson, Lincoln, Roxborough and many more—already have.

The SRC was created to divert money from public schools through privatization. Every charter, with its own CEO and its own administration, is its own district. Charter schools are not public schools. This school represents a minimum $50 million allotment from the District over the first five years. As it expands that figure will rise. And no matter how well or poorly this school performs academically, or how many ways it may violate the school code or not, the District will allow this school to operate indefinitely.

The bill has now come due for the years of SRC forcing public schools to function under an austerity budget while charter investors and CEOs feed at the public trough. The Doomsday Budget, we now know, was not a metaphor. At least one teacher that we know of is dying because buildings were not inspected for lead and asbestos.

This Board must break the cycle of funding charter schools with bloated administrations while our public schools crumble. The District is not here to serve the Eds and Meds who rather than reach out to the many schools with health sciences programs now want to go into the charter business.

The Board should reject the Health Science High School Charter. If Temple and Drexel and Community really want to serve the community, they should withdraw this application now.