Testimony of Stephanie King, Public Hearing for New Charter Schools, December 20, 2019

Good afternoon. My name is Stephanie King and I am a parent at Gen. Philip Kearny Elementary School in Northern Liberties, just down the road from KHSA. I am also the president of Kearny Friends. I am here to urge members of the board to vote NO on both of the charter school proposals before them today.

Simply put, Philadelphia does not need any more charter schools. Our current building crisis shows us that every financial diversion costs our neighborhood schools. Meanwhile, charters get to pick and choose who they enroll, and are only public when they have their hands out for our tax dollars to fund them.

Health Sciences Leadership Charter does not offer anything to the district that we cannot do ourselves, and that others are in fact doing elsewhere. Philadelphia School Partnership acted dishonorably by tricking Kensington Health Sciences into showing them what a successful district school can do with the health sciences concept. There are programs at several other schools such as King, Mastbaum, or Overbrook. If Jefferson, Temple, Drexel, and PCOM are looking to do something innovative, they could always try paying PILOTs. Otherwise, replicating something we’re already doing isn’t an “innovation.”

Regarding Joan Myers Brown Academy, Philadanco is a Philadelphia institution and I have enjoyed their performances. But this school is just another excuse to siphon students and funding – and the best dancers! – from neighborhood schools.

String Theory doesn’t need to operate any more schools. The $2.5 million they receive in management fees could pay for asbestos remediation at one of our schools. If the performing arts are so important that students deserve increased access to them, then the District’s art office should be putting dance in EVERY school. If it’s not important enough, then there’s no reason to have a separate school for it. Which is it? Our school doesn’t even have a music teacher yet String Theory wants to tell me I should have to enter a lottery.

Because we fund them with our tax dollars, every flyer these charter schools mail out to attract students is a pencil stolen from my child’s hand. Every billboard or subway poster advertisement is a chromebook cart taken out of my school’s classrooms. I’m sorry that my school can’t afford a marketing department to entice parents. I’m sorry that I don’t have a grants committee or partnerships manager to get my school everything that it needs. But the least the district could do to help, while we’re all doing all this work to support our neighborhood schools, is to stop giving away all our students and funding to charter schools. Please vote NO on these schools.