While some public school observers cheer the potential dissolution of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission, charter advocates have taken a more muted tone.
“We’re at a ‘wait-and-see’ point right now,” said Stephen DeMaura, executive director of Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners, a pro-charter lobbying group.
For the first time since the SRC was set up 16 years ago, there seems to be real momentum toward disbanding the five-member body and replacing it with a local school board. Politically progressive organizations and politicians have spearheaded the push against the SRC. Voices from the city’s large and growing charter sector have been noticeably quieter.
One could confuse that silence for opposition, but charter advocates say they aren’t organizing against theoretical governance changes. They just aren’t sure what to make of those changes.
“Look, it’s gonna happen,” said David Hardy, founder of Boys' Latin Charter School and a vocal charter proponent. “I’m not sure I don’t want it to happen.”
If the SRC dissolves, the board that replaces it would oversee the city’s 86 charter schools, vet future applications, and parse expansion proposals, among its other duties. That means there’s plenty at stake for the school choice community.
Those stakes, however, haven’t translated into strong opinions.
“I think it could be good,” said Marc Mannella, CEO of the five-school KIPP Philadelphia network. “I think it could be bad.”