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Partnership has raised more than $50 million to give to 'great' schools

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 23, 2012 09:45 PM

The two-year-old Philadelphia School Partnership, at the center of the city's strategy to support "great" schools regardless of who runs them, announced Thursday that it was more than halfway to its goal of raising $100 million from area foundations, corporations and individuals.

At a press conference attended by Mayor Nutter and School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos, PSP executive director Michael Gleason said that his group has commitments for $51.9 million.

Its Great Schools Fund disburses grants on a competitive basis to public, charter, private and parochial schools serving low-income students for "transformation, expansion and start-up of high-performing schools." It has already given out more than $7 million in grants.

The event was held at the Philadelphia Charter School for the Arts and Sciences at H.R. Edmunds in Frankford, a former District school taken over this year by the charter organization String Theory.

String Theory, which runs the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter in South Philadelphia, has been awarded $2 million from PSP to aid with the Edmunds turnaround.

The biggest donors to PSP are the William Penn Foundation, which has given $15 million, and the Maguire Foundation, which has given $5 million.

According to PSP, the remaining $31.9 million is from 20 investors, including the Ace Charitable Foundation, money manager Ted Aronson, the J. Mahlon Buck Jr. family, Cigna, Janney Montgomery Scott, JP Morgan Chase, Lincoln Financial Foundation, Ned and Marcia Kaplan, Patricia Kind, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, Eustace Wolfington, and PSP board members Evie McNiff, John Stine, Michael O'Neill and Janine Yass, as well as several anonymous donors.

PSP's Mike Wang said that not all the donors wanted the amounts of their donations listed, but that the donations from that group range from "the $1,000 range to the $2 million range."

The initial grants made by PSP last fall included $1.5 million to Mastery Charter and $450,000 each to Universal Companies and ASPIRA to help with their conversions of District schools into charters under the Renaissance Schools turnaround initiative.

More recently, PSP awarded $1.3 million to the Catholic prep school Cristo Rey Philadelphia, one of a national network of 24 schools serving low-income students of all faiths. Other grants this year went to the Freire Charter School to support the creation of a new middle school, and to the Sustainability Workshop - a nationally recognized, project-based program for seniors that spun off from the automotive academy at West Philadelphia High and is now seeking to expand into a full four-year school.




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Comments (35)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 11:26 pm

Imagine that. All charters.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 11:41 pm

And just yesterday the Notebook reported on the national report showing that "far fewer dollars are spent per student in schools with predominantly Black and Latino enrollments, and that staffing those schools with less experienced teachers accounts for much of the spending disparity." How much of this $50 million will reach those students?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:28 am

You really need to ask? ZERO!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 7:27 am

The students will be receiving private classes in the arts: vocal music, music theory, instrental music, visual art, the art of creative writing, innovations in science, science lab, in addition to academics. It's an extended school day. The children also recirved quality highly certified teachers with experience. Each student in the school is given a new iPad not to mention the multitude of bran new apple technologies built into the classrooms. You've got to be kidding me- the students are reaping the benefits of the donations for sure! They will be college and career ready children whose classic academics will be infused with the arts. Thats why there are many types of schools- because there are many types of people who deserve options. Get over the union - catholic- private- charter stuff and start realizing how the children will prosper!

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on August 24, 2012 9:55 am

District schools (regular public schools) do much of this, and would enthusiastically add all these items IF WE GOT THE FUNDING! But, the plan appears to be to starve schools of funds, then hand them over to charter operators, THEN restore funds so all the things ALL types of kids deserve (not just the 'many types' you state) can be given to a few kids. Our schools are being starved of funds so 138 million dollars can be spent on new charter 'seats'. Will the GCC ever give a grant to a regular district school? We will see.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 11:24 am

CERTAIN children will prosper...not the most needy. Who wouldn't want all that, but like I say...the REAL public schools, not the charter schools (which already are wealthy) will not get anything from this. That is the problem. The charters are taking so much money from the regular public schools and here comes a program donating lots of money and it will only go to the charters, who are NOT the ones that need the money and new materials

A new Ipad for each student? I would be happy for a funtioning computer in my classroom or a new whiteboard or even a smartboard. Hahahaha. Yeah, that will happen. They set the regular schools up to fail, so they can then scream and eventually turn them into a charter. It is not a fair distribution of money and materials. Sounds like you don't work at one of these...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 11:51 am

I'm sorry you feel that way but there are many incorrect statements in your rant. First off, so set the record straight, PSP also donated 1.3 million to a private catholic school. Check your sources. Additionally, the fact that tu feel that charter schools are wealthy is not true at all- it just so happens there are donors who wish to contribute to the schools MODEL which public can NEVER DO.

I take it your a union teacher who is feeling unlucky- but in reality there is a school reform in Phila. because of poor conditions of those schools that are now called "renaissance schools." perhaps of u let ur school go to waste, a charter will take over your school too ( which is bound to happen this year 40% of public schools are turning over to charter because the SUPERINTENDENTS are making 200,000 + dollars... Thats the MONEY that could have gone to give each student axing technology- which by the way was all donated from apple anyway to Edmunds.) there is no other money. Charter schools aren't rich- they are just rich with fight, integrity and a superior model that big companies want to support. Public schools are cookie cutter. Think of the children instead of yourself. The children are the ones getting new iPad not the teachers. These kids went from a prison school to a school with vision and a model that is going to foster a multitude of needs( since u feel as though it won't) what exactly does PUBLIC have to offer to support their needs? Edmonds has a special edu and autism team and 2 counselors and school psychologist. You need to check your facts before you rant, because of your superintendents didn't exist just to suck up funds then your children and classrooms could have the opportunity to be more technologically advanced too. Unfortunately your Tax dollars go to them where charter schools have cut out the fat of a superintendent. See the difference? That's just one of many ... I bet you'll be teaching in a charter in a year or two bc u won have any other choice. It's the future- adapt!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:05 pm

How dare you say "think of the children, not yourself". That is exactly what I am doing. When my kids have a crappy chalkboard to learn from vs. a nice Ipad or smartboard, that is not fair to them. I could give plenty of examples. Who would want to go to my is dingy, dirty with broken stuff all over. That is due to "budget cuts". And you can cry all you want, but the charters ARE taking the public school money, leaving the public with is definitely part of the budget problem. If you don't need to be accountable to the district, don't take their money. Arlene gave her special schools all sorts of extra funding. And then you have all the big philanthropic orgs giving lots as well. Didn't Oprah donate a lot? Why doesn't some of it go to the regular schools, if people really cared about the neediest kids?

And I do agree that money is misspent and abused by the superintendents and principals. Until all schools have exactly the same materials, supports and resources, you cannot compare them.

As far as your superior model, I don't see that charter school test scores are getting much better results than the charters that cherry pick their students, that is another story. And again, there is no comparison in that case.

Good day.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:42 pm

Sory but u must think I'm a teacher. I am not. But I can tell you that test scores are public information. So NO public schools are ever given money from higher up? Tragic

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:37 pm

No, I figure you are an admin somehow of charter schools or an anti-union private person...whatever you are, it doesn't matter.

I can only speak for my school. Have never been given new materials for my classroom, except for a few reams of paper (if I am lucky) I provide all materials for my classroom which I guess is at least $1,000 if not more. We are lucky to get workbooks. Some years we have to copy them for extra students...with our own paper. We are lucky to have toilet paper and paper towels for our bathrooms! It is ridiculous. Most teachers have painted their own rooms, a neighborhood organization and the teachers have been redoing our library so at least that will be fresh and updated. Do not say that teachers do not care about their students. Most teachers in my building go above and beyond and spend lots of their own money and TIME to make things better for the students, cuz the district certainly isn't concerned.

Bottom line, you have to wonder where is all the money. I am sure the charter and suburban districts don't operate like this.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:06 pm

It would be helpful if you learned a little grammar. Then, your foolish post would be more readable, at least.

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:54 pm

I invite you to look at the salaries of the people running single charter schools before you freak out about the salary of a person running hundreds of schools. While I agree it is ostentatious to have anyone in the district making 6 figures, I think it is criminal that someone in charge of 1 or 2 schools is making the same at MANY charters.

There are for-profit charters. There are non-profit charters which operate much the same as a for-profit. The only difference between the two is that non-profits can't have any money left over after salaries are taken care of; guess where the difference goes? Not to the teachers or the students.

You don't seem to know much about schools outside of Philadelphia. All urban districts face the same problems. But Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are alone in this insane quest to funnel money out of schools instead of into them. This is neither how it has to be, nor how it should be. PA had a study done a few years ago which proved, without a doubt, that schools across the state are significantly underfunded and that high-needs districts were funded even less equitably than simply "underfunded." This caused the state to do nothing but take away even more money.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2012 9:06 am

Great point. Take a look at what charter CEO's make. The salaries you will read about in this Notebook article are for running one charter school.

Take a look at the staff at ONE charter school. How much money do these people make?

The elementary school where I teach has only one administrator: the principal. She doesn't make half of what some of these charter CEO's make, and she has to run the school all by herself.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 1:41 pm


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:33 am

Great means charter, I am sure. Not getting any hopes up of getting some money for our school, we don't count...until we fail.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 2:00 am

That's not the story. The story is that that Nutter said that debates over public vs. charter vs. private schools "are esoteric debates that ultimately don't mean anything to these young people." They probably don't mean anything to these young people because they aren't learning their U.S. history. The importance of a strong, successful public school system is "an esoteric debate." According to Graham's tweets, Nutter "wants parents to have choice. ultimately, form of school doesn't matter."

This is from the Democratic, African-American mayor of one of the U.S.'s largest cities.

Public education in the U.S. is doomed.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 6:19 am

Nutter is a product of Catholic schools (including St. Joe's Prep). He is also very anti-union. He has not negotiated with city workers and obviously could care less that the vast majority of charters are not unionized. Catholic Archdiocesan high schools are unionized but that is also jeopardize. Nutter is at the center of destroying public education but considering his allegiances and background this is no surprise.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 8:43 am

He has made profit from charters. Just look at his wife's background. Always follow the money trail. Only out for himself.

Submitted by tom-104 on August 24, 2012 8:55 am

This interview with Nutter from the January issue of Wharton Review shows you his mentality. It's all about business for this aspiring CEO!

Why It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 24, 2012 2:08 pm

Nutter is only about himself and down the road, he sees a gray train from throwing Public Ed. and all things Union under the bus. Follow his wife's history and all things related to money making for both of the, especially her so far. It's a dog and pony show and he's another of Corbett's puppets, doing the bidding of the big money people like The Koch Brothers and ALEC. The Middle Class is doomed unless we fight back. Silence is not golden, Jerry. Teamsters would know how to handle this crap and have done so many times. If we can make it to the next election, Tea Party Nuts like Corbett and Scott Walker, John Kasich, Chris Christie and the lunatic in Florida ALL need to be shown the exit door.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 8:43 am

Compare the average Charter School principle with a district principle, usually the Charter School principle is much much better. There are exceptions in the district, but it makes my stomach cringe when I come across lousy principles in district schools. And of course there's the Union thing. Charters FIGHT for their life every day and live in fear of charter revocation and under funding.... the district schools don't really, because its 3 degrees of separation, a nice union protection, etc.... This just leads to Charters being better operated. Plus no one can operate a behemoth of an organization like the PSD well. Its too big to run well.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 9:46 am

learn how to spell principal.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on August 24, 2012 9:03 am

Principals have no contractual or tenure rights to any particular assignment to any school whatsoever. That is clearly stated in legal precedent after legal precedent. So do not go blaming incompetent principals on any union.

The reason there are a few incompetent principals is because of the way they are "put in place" by their friends in power. The school district follows no rules. Those in power do whatever they want for whatever reason they want. They routinely take care of their friends.

The school community and the teachers usually have no say in who is placed in the principal position at their schools. They are intentionally "excluded from the process."

Blame the SRC for that. They are responsible for what goes on in the district under their watch. They set the policies and practices.

Also there are many many outstanding principals in our district. You just do not hear about them because they are busy leading their schools and doing what is right for their students and their school community. The best schools still are the regular public schools which are led collegially and collaboratively.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 9:46 am

Please.... many of the charter schools do not even employ state certified principals. Look at the Gulen school, scores of EEOC complaints, no certified administrator, poor test scores, poor student retention, tax payer monies spent on public relations firms and criminal attorneys... not to mention the legal fees tax payers are footing to actually fight to keep this monstrosity open.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 11:20 am

Not anymore. It's a law. And also not at Edmonds. Professionalism says a lot too and the past staff at edmunds weren't! Read the school reports

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:55 pm

Many charter schools use a contracted consultant to provide teacher evaluations, that is the only requirement. I truly hope you have a wonderful experience at Edmonds. I mean that sincerely. I don't think either system "charter vs. traditional public" is better. It is the adults charged with prioritizing the needs of students above everything else that makes the school successful.

Submitted by Gloria (not verified) on June 5, 2014 3:51 am
You know, principals aren't the only ones that affect the way things go in a school or university... I'm just saying that maybe we should look into the problem deeply to find out what's causing these changes gloria
Submitted by Dina (not verified) on August 24, 2012 10:09 am

And yet, district public schools are facing increasing cut backs. The whole thing is a disgusting travesty. Corporations and wealthy donors, who don't pay enough in taxes, are supporting this with their money. What's wrong with this picture?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 10:18 am

Who do we blame before there was charter schools and no SRC?

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 24, 2012 12:09 pm

WE are to blame for having Corbett is Harrisburg. Too many people sitting on their butts and not voting at all. As disappointing as Obama has been, imagine the consequences of a Romney Administration. Also, this whole Voter ID nonsense is right out of the Poll Tax era. Bull Connor and George Wallace are snickering in hell about it. WE better be careful or they'll turn back the clocks altogether on us.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 11:41 am

It is not about blame ,it is about transparency and accountability in spending tax payer money. And while I have huge issues with accountability and consistent transparency at SDP, there is no requirement for charter schools to be accountable when spending tax payer monies. There are some great charter schools, but there are also huge failures. As referenced by another blogger, "chocolate covered cotton".

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2012 12:22 am

How the Partnership defines "great" to date is limited to Renaissance schools with no track record - all were new - a new parochial school and a new program for selected, high performing seniors (Sustainability). Aren't there any public schools who have been around for decades "great?" What about schools that service high numbers of low income, special education and English Language Learners? Are they "great enough" for Nutter and the Partnership? Or, will only magnets get grants since they have "high performing seats" because they won't let anyone else attend? I can see the list now - SLA, Masterman, Central, Girls, etc - all very selective magnet schools which have next to no students with IEPs, ELLs, etc. unless they are "the select few."

Again, very wealthy people and foundations are going to set public education agendas rather than the public.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 27, 2012 11:13 pm

Mark Gleason and the so-called Partnership has said charters are better than SDP schools. Gleason and the SRC need to look at the admission requirements at Philly high school charters. The requirements make them special admit schools. Here are a few examples:

Eastern Univ. Academy: Students must have 3 letters of recommendation, including one from a "community person or religious leader," attend an interview with a parent and "must bring a copy of their book choice and essay to the interview." Next, they must submit report cards before consideration for enrollment.

CHAD / Charter High School for Architecture and Design - The application includes an essay, report cards, two pieces of art work, 2 letters of recommendation, and an interview/portfolio presentation. Here's the application -

Boys Latin - There is no application on-line. The parent/guardian has to contact the school to review the packet - The process includes a meeting, an interview, a contract, etc.

Mastery - "Whatever it Takes" contract

Freire - Besides asking for an essay, students must submit a "Copy of Report Card showing the First Semester Grades (Quarters 1 and 2) or First Trimester (depending on school) at a minimum. All grades in Core Subjects must be a grade of 75% or better (as long as this mark is considered passing in your current school) as 75% is the passing mark at Freire Charter School."

Prep Charter - Requires listing family income, grades, and PSSA scores.

The SRC needs to publicly recognize the playing field is not equal. Neighborhood high schools have to accept any student in their catchment. The barriers to admission to charters needs to end.

Submitted by Kanedon (not verified) on January 10, 2014 6:50 am
Alright...This decision indeed is not a bad intention at all, considering the fact that the project-based program for seniors that started off from the automotive academy is now thoroughly seeking to expand itself into a full four-year school. Thanks a lot for the information.
Submitted by mark005 (not verified) on October 9, 2014 8:54 am

The education system needs such modification to make teaching effective. We should try to implement latest technologies like online studies to make education more reliable. The modification in academic program can washington dc segway tours  certainly bring changes in the education system. 

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