Commissioners, if you do not want your legacy to be one of burdening the district with a higher deficit than do not approve any of the 7 charter applications next week.
Trauma runs rampant in the district. Let me count the ways.
First is the upheaval caused by approving more charters. NYC based Hebrew charter school wants to open the Philadelphia Hebrew CS in East Falls, a convenient location for Lower Merion residents who seek a school that teaches Hebrew and the study of Israel. They import teachers from Israel who are not certified in Pennsylvania and plan on sending them to the highly under-qualified Relay Graduate School of Ed also not certified in Pennsylvania. These Israeli teachers have to be taught that this is not a religious school. Philadelphia School Partnership has already given them a $75,000 planning grant.
MaST charter school has applied to open it’s 3rd Phila school ultimately enrolling 2600 students. They also plan on opening a new school in Neshaminy at the same time. If their model is so wonderful then spend that money on replicating it in already existing district schools. Sharing of innovation was the impetus behind creating charter schools until the business world intervened and saw them as profit-making ventures for investors.
Second, the 6 Priority Schools have been informed of Dr Hite’s decision as to their interventions. Rhoads and Steel have been thrust into the Turnaround Network. Monday night Steel school held a parent/community meeting. The administration failed to notify parents and community members. There has never been a banner on the District website announcing any Priority School meetings. Our contact information has been collected at every meeting yet I have never received any notification. There were no robo calls made to parents and school flyers had the wrong date listed. This administration claims to want parent participation and yet shuts them out. Assistant Superintendent Becoats in charge of the Turnaround Network stated that Steel would make its teachers and principal re-apply for their positions. This turmoil severs relationships and creates more instability. He also said that Steel would receive $1million every year they are in the Turnaround Network and that every school in his Network receives the same. Where is that $19 million coming from? Why not put it directly into the schools after listening to what parents and teachers have said they need as was done at Kenderton School where no staff was displaced and no vendors such as ISA and Jounce were brought in. Dr Hite where is your beloved data showing that these transformations are working?
What our students need is stability and resources including restoring positions. Creating a sense of community and family as the principal at Robeson High School has done so carefully. Additional resources without conditions as has happened at Kenderton. This is what is needed not more trauma and instability.
Read our in-depth reports on each of the 7 charter applications and then check your conscience to see if you can really vote to approve any of them.