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Next week: charter renewals, not expansions

By Paul Socolar on Jun 9, 2010 11:35 PM

It looks like next week's School Reform Commission meeting on June 16 will finally take up the renewals of 11 charter schools seeking another five-year charter but will not address requests by a number of charters that had hoped to expand their grade configurations and student enrollments in the fall.

The renewals are "in the hands of the SRC," said Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, "and they’ve asked lots and lots of questions. I wouldn’t try to speculate on what’s going to happen next week."

"Right now they’re just dealing with the renewals," she said of the commission.

District officials confirmed that requests to expand charters would not be considered next week.

Making the case for both renewing and expanding their charters in testimony before the SRC Wednesday were speakers from the the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School and Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School.

SRC members must grapple with the budgetary impact of increasing charter enrollments amidst uncertainty about one of the key premises of next year's District budget - a projected $90 million increase in the state's basic education subsidy that is supported by the governor and the state house but not the state senate.

The June 16 meeting is the last scheduled SRC meeting till August.

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Comments (35)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2010 10:23 am

Hm... watch out for expansions that will be "walked on" to the SRC vote without the public knowing.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2010 1:35 pm

What ever happened to shutting down New Media Technology Charter School? As I remember it, the administration was told to STEP DOWN or be SHUT DOWN last fall. No changes made and still nothing done about it?

Charters have nothing to be afraid of - SRC isn't going to do anything about glaring problems.

Submitted by concerned teacher! (not verified) on June 10, 2010 1:36 pm

So, I am hearing that Charters like KIPP and Mastery will be "walked on" next week as well. Apparently this is the quick and easy way of getting them through without any public comment on commentary.

Submitted by rumor mill (not verified) on June 10, 2010 2:50 pm

Rumors are swirling from Archie's office that some charters will receive a walk on. Let's see if those predictions are correct. This process is so shady.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2010 2:58 pm

I am glad I am not the only one who heard that the Charters will be expanding without public knowledge next week. Bravo District. Bravo Charters.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2010 2:30 pm

If you know about this KIPP school don't let it get "walked on" because you will literally get "walked over". KIPP and there brain cleansing idea of a school.........a scary thing.

Submitted by Cant afford charters (not verified) on June 14, 2010 4:14 pm

KIPP is not worse than Mastery. While I don't like both, if I had to send one of my kids to one of these prisons it would be KIPP. The people who teach in schools like KIPP and Mastery would never send their kids to factories like this. At least KIPP doesn't hate parents though.

Submitted by political fiasco (not verified) on June 10, 2010 2:27 pm

The politicians have already chosen their charters for expansion. I bet you all expansion will go down next week. Whether it's done with the wool pulled over our eyes or not. Who wants to bet that the hometown heroes like Young Scholars, Mastery, KIPP, among others will have bright new shiny contracts next week this time.

Submitted by sigh (not verified) on June 10, 2010 3:24 pm

you liberals are ridiculous. all you do is whine. Mastery and the other schools have a proven track record unlike these neighborhood cesspools you all fight for.

Submitted by keith Newman (not verified) on June 10, 2010 3:50 pm

Sounds like you need an education on education. If you're game, I'm ready, but please put your real name on the post.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2010 4:42 pm

you racist conservatives make me sick. are your kids at a mastery school?

Submitted by teacher (not verified) on June 10, 2010 3:39 pm

the folks at Richard Allen are certain that they'll get approved for expansion--and are aggressively hiring as we speak. I dont see anything wrong with charters, but why does the SRC have to be so secretive. I vote no confidence in the SRC

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2010 3:51 pm

So... we're worried about giving more kids to schools with track records of success (by virtually any metric or standard)?? I just don't follow.

Submitted by teacher (not verified) on June 10, 2010 3:47 pm

Personally, I'm not worried about that at all. But, I do believe the public should have knowledge of what is going to be done with our children. Many parents welcome charter schools, so why isn't there transparency? It is not fair to do this without some knowledge--more of an SRC issue than a charter problem. Who would lose if there was some transparency? No one.

Submitted by whatever (not verified) on June 10, 2010 3:49 pm

Maybe you should follow the fact that charter schools create a permanent underclass of students by bleeding the strongest students, and the most active parents out of the neighborhood schools. Maybe you should follow, that the attrition rates in these charters for students and teachers is unfounded. Maybe you should look at who's backing these charters both politically and financially. Maybe you should look at how these schools, are test prep factories. There's a lot to follow, just keep looking.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2010 12:52 pm

It depends on what the metric is. If that metric is fueled by controversial practices like pushing students out, overworking teachers, busting the union, and contracts that take money away from public schools, then yes. That so called track record is null and void.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 11, 2010 1:32 pm

I do not think it is the number of children. These expansions are being snuck through back doors. If they are so good for our children, why are they being snuck in at all? The biggest worry in my head is how the kids are picked and which ones actually get to stay for a whole year. I got two this year asked to leave their charters and it was pretty easy to figure out why. These joined me in January and February, after the charter received payment for them for the year. Our budget was not increased at all for them,, but the charter's was not decreased, either. Somehow, that does not seem level. Not fair. Not fair to the kids. Not fair to the other kids in my class.
It should not be allowed that these parents were encouraged to move their kids because of educational or behavioral issues. Yes - we need to accept kids from families that move, have money issues and cannot finish paying for a year in another system or who live in families dealing with other major issues... but it is WRONG that we allow this other type of movement.

Submitted by K. R. Luebbert (not verified) on June 14, 2010 12:07 pm

If Charters are really PUBLIC schools using PUBLIC money, then they should not be allowed to select and get rid of students. Of course, like Catholic Schools have for generations, they self-select for motivated parents and students--leaving problematic students and parents behind. All regular public school teachers want is a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. Require charters to KEEP ALL students they start with in September, OR allow regular public schools to "turf" students out like charters do. The metrics will never be accurate until we all operate under the same rules.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 14, 2010 1:43 pm

You are right, but that is not reality. In this reality, no one is watching what they are doing. No one is watching who they keep or who they test.
In the "normal" public schools, not only are we required to test everyone, children with active IEP's are not tested on their instructional levels. They must test on the grade leevel, no matter what their IEP's state. Therefore, we will never get any credit for any growth by these children, because it will never show up in the grade level tests.
How is it done in Charters? Are they held accountable for testing of IEP kids? Do they even keep any IEP kids?
Level playing field? How about a level assessment field, one without hidden hazards?

Submitted by K. R. Luebbert (not verified) on June 14, 2010 1:36 pm

It really would be nice to have ALL PSSA testing monitored by the State. Are certain children not tested? Good question! My school has 25% special ed--I do not know of any charter (except PTEC) that even approaches that!

Submitted by Anonymous on June 10, 2010 4:44 pm

No matter what our politics or personal opinions, we all should be able to agree that the public should have a say in what happens to the District. It is not ok that back door plans are being made. We all pay taxes we all deserve a say. If the SRC does indeed have expansion votes, we all lose. This just is not the way a democracy should function.

Submitted by Mastery Mask (not verified) on June 11, 2010 12:27 pm

It's very interesting that the SRC can say "no expansion" and only renewals when we know that Harrity, Mann, and Smedley are ALL going under the vice grip of Mastery. We are being hoodwinked folks. Renaissance is the expansion of charters. It is union busting. All of these schools, with their shady CEO styles are expanding.

Submitted by Interesting (not verified) on June 11, 2010 12:26 pm

That is an interesting point. The charters are indeed expanding, just not under the umbrella of expansion. Why would they need to go through the expansion process? We HANDED them over.

Submitted by ddct (not verified) on June 14, 2010 11:11 am

SOME OF THE BEST CHARTERS are being denied added enrollment because of the SRC's delaying tactics. Approval in August (apparently the SRC is on vacation in July) is too late and will effectively deny children a chance to attend these schools in the Fall. Furniture, staff, uniforms, etc. need to be budgeted for and ordered. The SRC does not have the children's best interests in mind. This is shameful.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 14, 2010 1:06 pm

"The SRC does not have the children's best interests in mind. This is shameful."
Why should the SRC be working towards the best for our children when it is so easy to follow the leader in other directions?
As for the use of the word "shameful"... I think we can get a little stronger than that. Shameful, disgraceful. horrible, nasty, evil, counter-productive, unintelligent, operating in isolation, uncooperative, and even childish. I like some of those.

Submitted by no charters (not verified) on June 14, 2010 4:56 pm

Don't worry, the SRC will probably "walk on" charters anyway. Parents, teachers, students, community members shouldnt have a say. Let's just keep opening charters. Most of which have to proven track record of success.

Submitted by angry black man (not verified) on June 14, 2010 5:33 pm

KIPP and Mastery are confident that talking to POLITICIANS and SDP "OFFICIALS" will get them their school. It is unacceptable for PUBLIC dollars to be spent without PUBLIC input. I hope that the SRC sticks to it's word and DOES NOT expand charters--because the PUBLIC has had no notice and no say.

Submitted by Cant afford charters (not verified) on June 14, 2010 4:58 pm

We literally can't afford anymore charters. There is a hiring freeze. Charters drain money from schools like my daughters. If your charter is legitimate, you should wait in line. Many charters are terrible. In fact, there are studies which show over 36% of them perform worse than public schools.

Submitted by Anonymous on June 14, 2010 6:58 pm

Right now, KIPP people are calling the SRC non-stop to put pressure on them to walk them on the agenda. The SRC has said, no expansions, only renewals. Call the SRC and tell them we want NO KIPP, or any other charters expanded. Their allegiance is to the PEOPLE not to KIPP and its political cronies. (215)400-4010

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2010 6:41 pm

I just called against KIPP. How dare they, or any other charter believe that they can push for something that the community has had no time to think about. The SRC has come on the record and said no more charters, we need to hold them to it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2010 6:42 pm

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2010 12:30 pm

The SRC would be a fool to approve the expansion of charter schools in light of the budgetary issues we are having. I am almost certain that they won't expand though. Looks like those politically connected charters will have to wait in line with the rest of children in Philadelphia.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2010 4:14 pm

Everyone who's concerned about timing and the democratic process needs to get consider that the SRC has been putting this off, inexcusably, for months and KIPP has been talking about its very specific plans in a versy public way for even longer. There is no reason not to do this. Bottom line... fifteen years from now, some potential med student will be otherwise locked in to a minimum wage job she doesn't want for no good reason without the opportunity to go to a school that works. What a travesty -- a million BP's couldn't, in their negligence, do the equivalent of this kind of damage to a million Gulfs of Mexico. How anyone could deny a child and their family a shot at college and all the opportunities that go with it is beyond me. :-(

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2010 8:53 am

The comments here are difficult to read. While I understand that everyone has their own opinions and interests to protect, I cannot fathom how people can so forcefully speak out about a school whose only agenda is to improve education for students who don't have other good options.
While I don’t know much about the inner-workings of other local charters and I am WELL AWARE that some have done illegal and unethical things, I DO know about KIPP.
I know that the accusation that charters don’t take their fair share of students with IEPs is absolutely not the case at KIPP. And, OF COURSE they test those students at grade level, not instructional level; the same testing rules apply at charters.
I know that the accusation that KIPP skims off the best students and most involved parents is unfounded. KIPP's lottery system is NEVER compromised. There is no entrance test. There is no jumping ahead on the waiting list. And the fact that KIPP asks parents to sign a commitment does NOT mean the parents always follow it! There are just as many parents at KIPP schools who never come up to speak to the teachers, don't return phone calls, etc. as at other schools.
Additionally, this idea that all instruction is focused on test prep is untrue. Do people really believe that for the 10 hours those students spend in school all they do is test prep?
What is very clear to me is that the people above who speak with such authority have NEVER, EVER actually visited the KIPP schools here or elsewhere. Because of KIPP’s historically impressive test scores, they want to believe that KIPP schools are somehow cheating, that the teachers there have it easier because they get "better" students and "better" parents. They want to believe that all the teachers and staff at KIPP are somehow evil, union-busting, test-obsessed monsters. They want to believe that, so they do.
I worked closely with the KIPP organization in the past and know many people who work within the organization here and elsewhere and, while I understand that my writing this will not change the minds of some of the passionate people who want to speak out against them, it is too hard to read all of the above comments and not try to post something where the truth about KIPP is told.
Believe me or believe those above me, it is, as always, your choice. However, do not assume that KIPP is guilty of the same misdeeds as others simply because someone tells you it is true. If you really want to see how it runs its schools, I can tell you that I have never seen a KIPP school turn away visitors! Call one, go see it for yourself, and then decide whether what they are doing there is good for those students or not. And if it IS good for students, who, really would an expansion hurt?

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on June 16, 2010 4:01 pm

I do not know much about the KIPP program, so I will not speak to that. But, if you believe in it so passionately, what is the problem with posting under your name and not anonymously? If you believe in it, own it.

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