Menu
Paid Advertisement
view counter

Two charters to grow; seven more must wait to learn fate

By Katie McCabe on Jul 20, 2012 03:29 PM

A divided School Reform Commission approved the expansion of two more charters on Friday, but delayed decisions on two others pending the result of the state’s ongoing investigation of possible cheating on state tests. Five other schools also have pending renewal or modification requests.

The SRC granted a total of 317 additional seats to New Foundations charter and KIPP Philadelphia at a projected cost to the District of $6.7 million over the next five years.

Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky voted no on both schools' expansions, citing the rapidly escalating cost to the District of adding charter seats as part of this year’s renewal and modification process.

“The cost of these seats is really high,” he emphasized. “I think that requests for additional seats for this process should bear a very high burden to prove their value to the district.”

Saying she was influenced by Dworetzky’s arguments, Commissioner Lorene Cary voted no on expanding New Foundations. Chairman Pedro Ramos and Commissioners Feather Houstoun and Wendell Pritchett voted in favor of both.

The SRC still must address the futures of seven charters with pending renewal or modification requests.

Two of those schools – Imhotep Institute Charter High School and the Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter School (PET) – are the subject of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) ongoing investigation of potential improprieties in the administration of the state’s PSSA exam.

A 2009 “forensic audit” of student answer sheets heavily flagged both schools for suspicious erasure patterns and statistical irregularities. Investigators from PDE and the state inspector general’s office have been conducting further inquiries since late 2011.

The department is not rushing through the investigation, said PDE spokesman Timothy Eller. He said the department "wants to ensure that all areas related to the investigation are properly vetted and reviewed." He added that there is no target deadline for its completion. 

On Friday, Thomas Darden, the District’s deputy for strategic initiatives, said that his office wanted to see the results of that probe before deciding the future of Imhotep and PET.

“Our intention is to make our recommendation once we have a chance to evaluate the PDE report,” Darden said.

“If it takes too long, we may change our mind about how we approach that.”

Imhotep founder and CEO Christine Wiggins declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

The SRC also delayed decisions on three schools that were late in providing financial information to the District: World Communications, Laboratory Charter, and Planet Abacus.

Two others, Belmont Academy and Belmont Charter, were delayed without explanation.

The expansions for both KIPP and New Foundations were approved with the goal of increasing the number of high-quality seats available to high school students in the schools’ surrounding communities.

New Foundations agreed to enroll 75 percent of its students from an “attendance zone” made up of 11 elementary and middle schools that feed into overcrowded District high schools in Northeast Philadelphia.

KIPP Philadelphia agreed to accept any applicants who previously attended Fitzsimons High or Rhodes High in North Philadelphia, both of which will close this year. KIPP Philadelphia will be moving into the Fitzsimons building.

KIPP CEO Mark Mannella said he was looking forward to operating a neighborhood-based school. “We like the idea of being a pillar in a community, a place where folks can count on us being there year in and year out.”

A cost analysis of both schools’ expansion requests prompted the commissioners to undertake an involved discussion of the most financially sustainable ways to expand the number of high-quality seats in the city.

Dworetzky said that this spring’s “scattershot” model of approving seat expansions to various charters is more expensive than other alternatives.

“The cost that we’re looking at here is seven times the cost of creating a high-performing seat through [the District’s Renaissance charter conversion] process,” Dworetzky argued.

“The point of the Great Schools Compact was to explore every other way you could create higher-quality seats … Promise Academies, Renaissance schools, or co-location.”

Lori Shorr, Mayor Nutter’s chief education officer, agreed, but said that the District’s ability to expand the Renaissance initiative was limited by the District’s dire budget straits and the pool of charters willing to do wholesale turnarounds.

“If we want to have a robust Renaissance or Promise Academy program, we have to invest in those as well,” Shorr said.

“We spent the summer focused on one strategy,” she said, meaning charter expansion.

KIPP is a national example of a successful charter operator that has been unwilling to participate in district turnaround processes around the country.

“We are not arrogant enough to think we have any idea how to do that,” said KIPP's Mannella.

Cary argued that the District’s first priority should be to invest in the schools it runs.  “The best way to improve schools is to improve the work of District schools," she said. “That’s the most cost-effective way. That’s the greatest urgency.”

Toward the end of the meeting, commissioners also heard from longtime education activist and consultant Venard Johnson about the climate and physical condition of Alcorn Elementary in South Philadelphia.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Johnson said. “It’s criminal. Someone should go to jail – that’s how I feel about it.”

Johnson questioned the District’s decision to exclude Alcorn from the Renaissance initiative and urged the SRC to involve the community in their plan to improve the school.

Karren Dunkley, chief deputy of the District’s Office of Parent, Family, Community Engagement and Faith-Based Partnerships, agreed to provide the Alcorn community with the District’s current improvement plan by Monday.

“We’d like to provide it in writing so everyone has the opportunity to have an extended conversation,” she said.

Johnson ended by inviting the commissioners to an Alcorn community meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, to further discuss the plan.

 

view counter

Comments (20)

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on July 13, 2012 9:44 pm

KIPP is a national example of a successful charter operator that has been unwilling to participate in district turnaround processes around the country.

“We are not arrogant enough to think we have any idea how to do that,” said KIPP's Mannella.
--
Mr. Mannella chose his words very carefully here. However, I doubt that KIPP's humility prevents them from trying to take over a neighborhood school. Rather, I think that the real reason KIPP won't do turnarounds of neighborhood schools is that their model won't work in a neighborhood school. Their model does not work for all students and KIPP may not want to work with all students, including special education students and students with behavior problems or less-involved parents. We'll have to wait and see how things work out for them when they take students from Rhodes and FitzSimons because this may be more of a neighborhood population that KIPP is accustomed to having.

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on July 14, 2012 5:00 am

KIPP does not have to take a certain number of students from FitzSimons and Rhodes - they will only take students/parents who agree to their contract and "fit." KIPP also had a charter renewed with a SIP of "8" and Mannella said they had a "bad year." The SRC apparently doesn't care if KIPP has a "bad year" but if a neighborhood school has a "bad year" they will get rid of the school.

Lets see how many students from Rhodes and Fitzsimmons enroll and stay in KIPP a year. I'd be surprised if there were more than a handful.

Submitted by tom-104 on July 13, 2012 10:00 pm

KIPP CEO Richard Barth http://www.kipp.org/about-kipp/the-kipp-foundation/board-of-directors was on the board of directors of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems in 2009. He sat on the board at the same time as Arlene Ackerman was as well as being Superintendent of Philadelphia public schools. This was the year William Hitt graduated from Broad. http://www.broadeducation.org/asset/419-tbc_board_announcement.pdf

Mannela is Director of KIPP Philadelphia schools.

When billionaire businessmen take over public education
http://educatingsouthcarolina.blogspot.com/2012/01/when-billionaire-busi...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 14, 2012 5:54 am

there is no such thing as a school that works for all students. the bogus argument that is often used against charters is " they don't take all kids." what school takes "all kids?" certainly not the selective admissions schools. not even the citywide schools. only the neighborhood schools and almost every one of them stink. So what's the urgency about replicating failure? what is implied by that statement is that the charters don't take sped kids. a recent study (not to credible, but let's say we believe this study) by the us department of Ed states that charters have less sped kiss nationwide. If you don't like kipp, you're probably salivating at this point. wipe your mouth, because the study clearly identifies pennsylvania as an exception to that trend. kipp has the good sense to know its strengths. maybe others should aspire to that higher level of cosmic consciousness.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on July 14, 2012 6:57 am

By law (e.g. I.D.E.A. - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) ALL students in the United States are guaranteed a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. If KIPP, Mastery and other "no excuses" charter schools will not accept students because they don't "fit" their model, then they are not a neighborhood school. They are a special admit school with admission requirements (e.g. a "contract," "pledge," or whatever they require - KIPP is notorious nationwide for "de-enrolling" students who don't "fit" their model).

What do suggest for students who don't meet requirements of special admit/citywide schools and charters with "contracts," "models," etc. that don't "fit" with students with different needs? Neighborhood high schools in Philadelphia, with the exception of Northeast and Washington, have from 20 - 31% students with an IEP. At a few schools, add in the number of English Language Learners (ELL), and there are nearly 55% of students either with an IEP or ELL. You say these schools "stink." These schools face challenges that KIPP, Mastery, and special admit schools in Philadelphia can't begin to understand. Mr. Manella admitted they do not want to take on the challenge of "difficult" schools (e.g. "Renaissance").

What makes a school, in your language, "stink?" Is it because the school takes on the challenges of providing an education for ALL students? A school is more than test scores. There are many good things going on in neighborhood schools. There are also problems in neighborhood schools that KIPP will never face because of their admission/retention policies. At the "Renaissance" charters (Olney Stetson and Gratz) they have dealt with "difficult" students by creating in school discipline schools/programs. "Non-compliant" students are physically separated from other students. Some people think this is great. Others wonder if this violates I.D.E.A.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 14, 2012 7:13 am

A distinction needs to be made between a school that "stinks" and one that is overburdened with special needs (including insecure, attention needy, emotionally injured) children. Many factors affect academic learning. The first one is parental involvement and parental awareness (affected by level of education). Here the charters enjoy a "screening" advantage, because parents actively have to enroll their children. These parents also want to avoid the behavior issue children.

Special Ed $ contracted out by Chester Community Charter is a major reason for Chester Upland District's bankruptcy. It was also a major reason they had grounds to sue the State for money to keep operating. In terms of how best to get services to those Sp.Ed. students, operating factors such as "in house" vs "contracted out" must be considered. In this case, charter works against efficient use of taxpayer $.

What is scary is that the per student expenditure of Chester Community Charter School is about $13,000 of which 40% goes to Mr. Gureghian's operating organization. If students are fairly well behaved, it seems legal requirements for class size and an enrollment of over 2000 (both CCCS and Central HS have) allow expenditures of less than $6000 (Central HS (includes Gifted IEP)) per child. Central is like a mass production factory, where kids are packed in classes to the legal limit, and many teachers (though impressively, are spread thin in order to) teach in more than one subject area. You could say this school "stinks" because individual attention is very hard to get.

Submitted by Frustrated Teacher (not verified) on July 14, 2012 9:15 am

Imagine if Central HS had no admission requirements (which are extremely high and rigid) and still had students "packed" into classes. Also, many Philadelphia high school teachers have 3 preparations - some have more. (I don' t know if this is true at Central.) Then, have a school where few parents are involved - for whatever reason - and then judge the school by test scores where students enter 9th grade often many grade levels behind. These are not excuses - they are realities. The parents involvement is key.

Another issue with some charters is teacher turnover. While I realize some charters, especially those aligned with Teach for America, do not care about teacher retention. But, schools which require 24/7 by teachers (e.g. KIPP) lose teachers when they realize they can't balance their family obligations (e.g. children) with the job load. It is very disconcerting when I'm expected to do so much for my students that I have no time left for my own children. Then I'm considered a disengaged parent.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 14, 2012 9:27 pm

A lot of teachers are caught in that dilemma: being responsible for the care and education of many children at the expense of caring for their own. It is a different discussion though highly and deeply relevant of how we value childcare in our society.

The factors affecting a child's ability to learn in an institutionalized setting, of which parent involvement is one, have been pretty well recognized. Charters that use the institutional model whatever their take/angle/innovation can't logically be expected to do any significantly better than a traditional public school, if these factors are equivalent. It was humorous to me that experiments in technologically driven classes where curriculum could be tailored to a child's level, still only did better when there was greater physical attention given (smaller student to teacher ratio); Imagine that :)

While acknowledging caregiver influence, I know of at least one case where a child has overcome negligence at home through the thoughtful mentoring of a teacher. A significant mentoring relationship and highly motivated child earned a full scholarship to a prestigious college. Although harder to consciously reproduce, a mentoring relationship is given a greater chance to develop in smaller classes, and YES with teachers that stick around/are retained.

Now politics that interferes with children receiving quality materials and resources is an issue with me. Charters have less bureaucracy, but as has been pointed out, still can fall victim to greedy self interest from profit seeking operators. The end result is the same in both cases: the kids don't get what was given by taxpayers specifically for them. Yes (broken record again) just look at Title I. Over $2000 a qualifying (impoverished) child for over 10 years. That's far more than I was/am able to afford to give my children. Why aren't all these impoverished children able to mega build legos, do mega art, swim, excel in a musical instrument, dance, understand and enjoy theater, etc. etc.? If they'd done all this, wouldn't they be able to sit still and focus better? I have not received an adequate answer yet; an explanation yes, but not an answer.

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 16, 2012 12:29 pm

If charters billed themselves as private schools that take public dollars to accept students who meet their criteria, I don't think most people would have a problem with it.

Unfortunately, charters claim to be open-enrollment, neighborhood schools. They then claim that they perform better than public neighborhood schools.

What is being attacked is not charter schools, per se. It is the notion that they are schools that are identical in funding and student population which magically perform better by virtue of being a charter.

If public schools could cap classes at 25 and jettison students with emotional/behavioral problems, could make parents sign engagement contracts, and could get extra funding (and YES THEY DO), we would also be performing better.

The idea that the savior of public education is a loose patchwork of nonprofit/for-profit/semipublic entities running schools with less accountability who get to choose which students "fit" their school is extremely damaging to the health of our democracy. It's funny that a law called "No Child Left Behind" spawned schools that do nothing but leave children they consider undesirable behind.

Public schools must "fit" each student. We don't have the luxury of picking kids who "fit" us.

Are there things that need changed about our public schools? Desperately, yes. Is the solution to that turning them into dumping grounds for the students charters label a "bad fit"? Unequivocally, no.

And yet, there are people like you who believe doing just that is a "higher level of cosmic consciousness."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 14, 2012 9:52 am

schools "stink" when they have long histories of chronic failure, no matter what the reason. when schools under serve its students for 15-25-35 years, it's time to throw in the towel and give new people a chance to do the work. you advocate for a unworkable model. kipp and mastery have robust sped department as do most charter schools. your constant rant about children being excluded is backed by anecdotal evidence. total numbers tell a different story.

Submitted by tom-104 on July 14, 2012 11:54 am

Do you think a school is an organism with a life expectancy? "15-25-35 years" In that time span everyone who makes up that school has changed. So what is the point? I guarantee you such a school is in a low income neighborhood with all the problems that brings. Such problems as unemployment, drug abuse, etc. must be dealt with. Privatizing a school will not change those conditions, it will just mean that neighborhood is being exploited by another heister.

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 14, 2012 11:23 am

No, charters underserve SPED, ELL, behavioral problems, etc. If you ask parents why they want to send kids to charters, it's BECAUSE they can get rid of the "problems."

The numbers do not in any way back you up. Few charters perform better than public schools. Many perform much worse. Most perform about the same. This nullifies the argument that charters do better jobs with the same students, because they simply do not.

The numbers say:
-Charters do not do any better or worse than public schools.
-Charters kick out students with behavior problems.
-Charters do not accept all students within their catchment.
-Charters do not have a proportionally appropriate amount of SPED and ELLs.
-Charters believe they can operate above the accountability and transparency rules.
-Charters worsen the labor pool of educators by hiring only inexperienced teachers who then burn out faster and quit.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 14, 2012 10:14 am

Why not invite the SRC and Karren Dunkley to see firsthand what
Mr. Johnson means when he describes the climate and physical condition of Alcorn Elementary as "an absolute disgrace,” They can see for themselves why Mr. Johnson said, “It’s criminal. Someone should go to jail..."

Ms. Dunkley who has a new job title is Assistant Superintendent should spend a week teaching and interacting with students, teachers, and parents at Alcorn. Put away the high heels for a week and walk the halls of Alcorn, visit the community, stand outside during morning arrival and afternoon dismissal--go out and do some meaningful work in the world of education.

The SRC should get of their collective behinds and go into the school and visit the community students and parents call home. See and feel the insurmountable odds students face daily. Try for just one week to feel and see their reality.

There is nothing like collecting data firsthand.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 14, 2012 10:41 am

Correction - The SRC should get off their collective behinds and go into the school and visit the community students and parents call home.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on July 14, 2012 1:56 pm

The $1.8 million which Universal got in free use of Vare and Audenreid could have gone toward improving the building at Alcorn. Alcorn, as I understand, is close to Vare and Audenreid.

If people like Bill Gates care so much about education, spend a bunch of money updating historic but out-of-date or run-down buildings in Philadelphia, like Belmont CS and Isaac Sheppard School. Update the school and preserve the historic character. That's good for kids and good for the city.

Submitted by Frustrated Teacher (not verified) on July 14, 2012 1:11 pm

Yes, imagine the Gates, Walton and Broad Foundations offering grants to preserve historic school buildings! That would be a service to the students/families and communities.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 16, 2012 5:59 pm

So they finally cought up with Imhotep cheating. It's been going on for years. I guess the state does pay attention to something.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on July 21, 2012 10:38 pm

The District is supposed to have an Accountability Review Council (http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/a/accountability/graphs--reports/a...). How come we aren't hearing anything from them? Why are they not holding the SRC accountable for approving seats in charter schools, even though more charters are costly to the District?

Submitted by Anypepriemn (not verified) on September 27, 2012 1:29 pm

by himself. I do believe anybody no less than seems to have a couple synthetic leather products inside clothing and luxuriate in the actual toasty together with relaxing becoming with each other. The idea is that marilyn and i has to be attentive to shield environmental surroundings within our existence. My partner and i noticed a guy jogging within the the town center. Since he / she complete taking his / her berg, the guy simply put any wrapper downwards within the yard! We did not be a little more ashamed.Whatever indicates the nice lifetime can be a perennial subject. I'm sure ladies that is in love with your life as well as packed with excitement that will loveliness. Hence, taking a look at supreme baggage just like Hermes Birkin crocodile much more while essentially ideal plus automatically multi-dimensional portions of your life as compared to in an effort to nourish our own counter methods we tend to appear towards the winning attitude involving enjoyment. An obvious mind is really a certain business card.
However , today i want to believe the actual handbag in most alternative methods. Considering the exact same amount of cash, you could solution 100 dropouts on increasing areas for one 365 days; pay for plenty of stunning clothing; embark on some Mediterranean sea trip even on a comfort 割引ニューバランスシューズ
seashore boat and so forth and so on. For contribute to prosperous individuals possess the complete escape to pay out your revenue, but you that the crocodile Birkin might possibly value just as a person's whole year's income. In the event most of us simply just purchase it again to be able to give food to http://www.nikeairmaxjp.org/ your pride with out contemplating authentic financial situation, it truly is no way worthy.However you can find consumers getting problem utilizing preventing crocodile to produce people carriers. Thankfully Hermes Provider requires offspring with parent crocodile and also lifts his or her intended for household leather produce. Very well, on condition that the style household will it inside a gentle strategy, the item can not be an issue プラダ トート
Facts about Crocodile Hermes Birkin ContainerHermes Crocodile Birkin luggage are generally openly well-accepted being the priciest designer purse worldwide. These kind of luggage are actually consequently spectacular with regards to turn out to be outside of quotation in relation to their unique craftsmanship. Up until now, Doyle New york city auctioned apart an important Hermes Birkin through crocodile natural leather レイバン サングラス and even 18 carats for pave jewels computer hardware for the purpose of $64, 800. The very best Birkin soldout had been $140, 000, a reasonably wild cost, will not be the application? As crocodile Birkin are believed to be being the ticker for basic, style as well as high-end, I do know for what reason they desire charge all of us a lot of. The truth is, placing your order an important backpack エアマックス95 through the type home straight is really time-consuming. For people with an adequate amount of bucks for you to purchase a good backpack, most people always will need to procrastinate approximately twenty-four. In addition, as soon as sacks will be for sale depends upon your method of getting crocodile skin.

Submitted by Anypepriemn (not verified) on September 27, 2012 1:17 pm

by himself. I do believe anybody no less than seems to have a couple synthetic leather products inside clothing and luxuriate in the actual toasty together with relaxing becoming with each other. The idea is that marilyn and i has to be attentive to shield environmental surroundings within our existence. My partner and i noticed a guy jogging within the the town center. Since he / she complete taking his / her berg, the guy simply put any wrapper downwards within the yard! We did not be a little more ashamed.Whatever indicates the nice lifetime can be a perennial subject. I'm sure ladies that is in love with your life as well as packed with excitement that will loveliness. Hence, taking a look at supreme baggage just like Hermes Birkin crocodile much more while essentially ideal plus automatically multi-dimensional portions of your life as compared to in an effort to nourish our own counter methods we tend to appear towards the winning attitude involving enjoyment. An obvious mind is really a certain business card.
However , today i want to believe the actual handbag in most alternative methods. Considering the exact same amount of cash, you could solution 100 dropouts on increasing areas for one 365 days; pay for plenty of stunning clothing; embark on some Mediterranean sea trip even on a comfort 割引ニューバランスシューズ
seashore boat and so forth and so on. For contribute to prosperous individuals possess the complete escape to pay out your revenue, but you that the crocodile Birkin might possibly value just as a person's whole year's income. In the event most of us simply just purchase it again to be able to give food to http://www.nikeairmaxjp.org/ your pride with out contemplating authentic financial situation, it truly is no way worthy.However you can find consumers getting problem utilizing preventing crocodile to produce people carriers. Thankfully Hermes Provider requires offspring with parent crocodile and also lifts his or her intended for household leather produce. Very well, on condition that the style household will it inside a gentle strategy, the item can not be an issue プラダ トート
Facts about Crocodile Hermes Birkin ContainerHermes Crocodile Birkin luggage are generally openly well-accepted being the priciest designer purse worldwide. These kind of luggage are actually consequently spectacular with regards to turn out to be outside of quotation in relation to their unique craftsmanship. Up until now, Doyle New york city auctioned apart an important Hermes Birkin through crocodile natural leather レイバン サングラス and even 18 carats for pave jewels computer hardware for the purpose of $64, 800. The very best Birkin soldout had been $140, 000, a reasonably wild cost, will not be the application? As crocodile Birkin are believed to be being the ticker for basic, style as well as high-end, I do know for what reason they desire charge all of us a lot of. The truth is, placing your order an important backpack エアマックス95 through the type home straight is really time-consuming. For people with an adequate amount of bucks for you to purchase a good backpack, most people always will need to procrastinate approximately twenty-four. In addition, as soon as sacks will be for sale depends upon your method of getting crocodile skin.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

By using this service you agree not to post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable. We reserve the right to delete or remove any material deemed to be in violation of this rule, and to ban anyone who violates this rule. Please see our "Terms of Usage" for more detail concerning your obligations as a user of this service. Reader comments are limited to 500 words. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

Follow Us On

Read the latest print issue

Philly Ed Feed

Become a Notebook member

 

Recent Comments

Top

Public School Notebook

699 Ranstead St.
Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 839-0082
Fax: (215) 238-2300
notebook@thenotebook.org

© Copyright 2013 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook. All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Usage and Privacy Policy