Testimony of Lynda Rubin to the Board of Education, February 28, 2019

Do Not Approve Any New Charters

I’m speaking tonight to urge this Board to vote NO on Agenda Items 4, 5 & 6 regarding the new applications for 3 more charter schools.

First – We can’t afford them. Current public school students are paying for them by having fewer essential resources, like safe, healthy buildings.
A vote to approve new charters is a vote to close neighborhood public schools.

Second – Your own Charter School Office (CSO) has detailed, and I mean specifically, many problems with each of these charter applications, including but not limited to:

  • lack of funding for staff of even key parts of their curriculum
  • the overlapping and interchangeable duties and roles of charter board members, real estate operators, etc., in essence placing the financial interests of those involved above the education priorities of the students they enroll
  • lack of willingness of these charter operators to agree to School District oversight, including refusing to sign onto new charter agreements with the conditions you set
  • schools they manage that are in Watch and Intervene categories are not achieving at the levels of comparable public schools
  • the schools these charter companies tout as replicable, do not reflect the demographics of District schools. The demographics of one school in particular, String Theory’s Performing Arts School, does not reflect the demographics of District schools that String Theory claims they can improve.

Third – Well-funded private investor PR companies like PSP and Excellent Schools PA., et al, are marketing charter schools to the public as if they were introducing a new, improved soap product.

They have a plan.

Part 1 – Get as many new charters authorized to increase their footprint now, with enrollment and new locations to be expanded later.

They have convinced you that you are saving money even by authorizing schools you have problems with because they will drag out legal appeals which the District cannot afford. You’ve said as much.

Part 2 – Declare themselves MCSOs (multi-charter school organizations) for their ever-growing number of existing stable of schools.

Part 3 – Eventually secede from the District taking our taxpayer Philadelphia student funding with them.

They are, after all, businesspeople who owe fidelity to their financial investors and well-paid executive salaries.

So even if any of you are no longer on the Board when the School District is decimated, I’m telling you, you will bear the responsibility for letting them play you now.

Pay attention to history. In the 80’s and 90’s corporate raiders were taking over existing companies, and often selling them off in pieces for their own financial gain. If functioning companies and economies were destroyed and long term employees left without jobs, oh well.

It’s all about the Benjamins.