Click the picture above and go to timestamp 34:06 to view Lynda’s testimony.
Greg Windle’s two articles in today’s Notebook about Franklin Towne Charter’s re-application for a third school and his reporting on their circular financial motivations are instructive not only for why this charter should be denied -again – but also as a template for evaluating all existing renewal and new charter applications from any organization.
I’ve included links to both articles at the end of my testimony. In the first he reviews FTC’s application and the Charter School Office’s evaluation. In the second, he delves into the circuitous financial underpinnings and incestuous nature of the management, financial and business practices of the company.
Windle cites from the District’s Charter School Office’s report:
- conflicts of interest among board members… raising questions about the propriety of these relationships, especially regarding lease arrangements for the building.
- the elementary school is facing serious financial problems and the schools together have $30 million in debt, which has not been reduced over the last four years,
- The revised application continues to lack sufficient evidence that the applicant has researched the projected student population, and its needs,
- The revised application was “mostly silent” on how the school would close the achievement gap for students with special needs, English learners and students performing below grade level,
- It was also “silent” on whether it would identify students experiencing trauma, those in foster care, and those with chronic health issues.
But my favorite is: “Otherwise, the new application is largely the same as the old one, except that it no longer contains a paragraph that described money budgeted for “first class and business class air travel” for Franklin Towne staff.”
Franklin Towne’s motivation for opening a new charter has nothing to do with education of children, but is, instead, a ploy to save its financial backers’ investments. It’s like a couple who decide to try to save their failing marriage by making a new baby. It’s just wrong.
Motivation and reason for being matters because it instructs all that follows. If your motivation is solely, or even mostly, to create a successful business and take advantage of a fresh new market, then I implore all such entrepreneurs to stay away from public education for children. It is a calling. It takes a special type of vision, fortitude and skill to be in this profession. And for that calling to be subverted for personal profit and power in the business or political community is disgraceful.
It never ceases to amaze me how charter operators express their condescension for professional educators, and try to quantify the delivery system of teaching children into an efficient business product.
Parents at last night’s listening session called out for improved interaction between the new school board and the community and for the restoration of resources that schools once had with an emphasis on public education of our children as engaged, involved citizens.
Philadelphia Public School Notebook by Greg Windle:
SRC approves Franklin Towne’s third charter school and votes to close Eastern University Academy Charter | The Philadelphia Public School Notebook – April 26, 2018