Ahead of the SRC’s vote on the renewal of 16 city charter schools, advocates from Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) spoke out today in front of the school district building on the need to halt the expansion of unproven charter schools.
“Why should charters be able to add as many kids as they feel like and take funds out of the pockets of Philadelphia Public Schools? We are all in this together, so all charter schools need to play by the rules and honor their charters,” Andi Perez, Youth United for Change. “If a charter school is taking public money they should remove barriers to enrollment and educate ALL the students who come through their doors just like traditional public schools.”
Wednesday’s SRC vote comes days after Newsworks revealed that the Philadelphia School District has threatened to revoke the charters of two charter schools, Mariana Bracetti Academy and Discovery Charter, after they violated enrollment restrictions and went on to take $842,009 in state funding that would otherwise have gone to the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District.
“I commend Dr. Hite for not recommending that we don’t expanding any charter seats this coming school year. According to PCCY, (Public Citizens for Children and Youth) a majority of these charters have barriers to enrollment such as English only applications, requesting students and their parents social security numbers, recent report cards, birth certificates, income level, PSSA and Terra Nova scores,” said Kaseem Davis, Carroll High School 9th grader.
“What I find most disturbing is that they require letters of recommendations from school counselors rating student’s efforts and even a rating on their self confidence. I believe this is way too much and makes people not want to fill out the applications because most of those things are personal,” added Davis.
The debate over Philadelphia school funding has reached a fever pitch following last week’s student protests and heated budget meetings the prior week. PCAPS will gather ahead of the SRC meeting to ask Superintendent Hite to make good on his commitment to halt charter school expansions in the coming year.
“As a public school parent, I agree with the district that we can’t afford any expansion of charter schools, which would push our school system even closer to collapse,” said Antoine Little ACTION United parent leader. “We already have 24 public schools closing in the city, many of which are in my neighborhood. It makes no sense to expand charters while simultaneously closing so many public schools.”
“At a time when Philadelphia schools are seriously facing devastating cuts, why are we giving money to unaccountable charters to spend in ways we can’t oversee? I want that money going directly to public
education for my children,” Robert Choice, Fight for Philly member and parent of West Philadelphia and Saul High School students.
“At the same time that Philadelphia is threatening cuts to public schools that seriously affect my children’s ability to learn and succeed; the city is talking about expanding charters that take public money and spend it with little oversight. We need to support proven public education, not a patchwork of charter operators that could be doing anything with our money,” Hanif Palmer, parent of BOK and Motivation High School students.
Following the SRC’s decision to close 24 Philadelphia public schools, PCAPS has sharpened its focus on increasing state public education funding and calling for charter accountability. PCAPS has already gathered over 5,000 petition signatures calling for, “Governor Corbett to adequately fund public schools and for Mayor Nutter and City Council to work with the community and demand accountability, transparency and responsible administration for Philadelphia’s charter schools.”
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) includes:
ACTION United * AFT Pennsylvania * Coalition of Labor Union Women * Fight for Philly * Jobs with Justice * Juntos * Media Mobilizing Project * Occupy Philly Labor Working Group * Philadelphia AFL-CIO * Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy * Philadelphia Home and School Council * Philadelphia Federation of Teachers * Philadelphia Student Union * SEIU 32BJ * UNITE HERE Philadelphia * Youth United for Change