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SRC votes to terminate Palmer charter, approves 4 others, adopts new charter policy

Photo: Harvey Finkle

Protesters in front of School District headquarters before the School Reform Commission meeting.

The School Reform Commission approved a resolution calling for closure of the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School on Thursday night, ignoring pleas from two City Council members, a state legislator and Palmer himself to "let calmer heads prevail" and postpone any action.

Before the 4-1 vote for closure, SRC Chair Bill Green pointed out that hearings must still take place before the school can be closed. Commissioner Sylvia Simms opposed the action.

It was a packed and noisy meeting that took more than six hours, with more than 60 people signed up to give testimony.

The SRC also renewed the charters of four schools -- all for five years and all with conditions.

The commission postponed a vote on renewing Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter until it gets a more detailed plan in writing on how the school plans to diversify its student population, especially at its South Philadelphia elementary school.

The SRC also adopted a new charter policy by a 4-1 vote. Among other provisions, the policy allows for evaluations and modifications to a charter to occur annually. It also takes more steps to assure that charters conduct fair and open admissions procedures.

The policy also puts the charter office under direct control of the SRC, which was a key demand of charter operators.

Commissioner Feather Houstoun dissented, saying that she disagreed with moving the charter office under the commission's jurisdiction.

"I am still very concerned that placing it outside the authority of the superintendent will make it harder for the SRC to fulfill its governance obligations to serve all schoolchildren in Philadelphia," she said. "There are too many interconnecting relationships that involve District schools and charter operators."

But the most controversial vote was the one on Palmer charter, a 1,300-student school with campuses in Northern Liberties and Frankford whose founder is a longtime city civil rights activist.

The resolution, which would begin the process to revoke the school's charter, cited academic, operational, and financial shortcomings, including declining test scores, a nearly $3 million deficit, and billing the District for students who did not attend the school.

After the District's abrupt announcement Tuesday that a charter revocation vote was planned, Walter Palmer vowed to mobilize his political support, and he did.

"We are very upset to hear about the closing of a charter school out of the clear blue," said Jannie Blackwell, chair of City Council's Education Committee. "This charter school with all its murals, all its leadership, all it has been involved with to help young people, I think is unfair."

She suggested that the District was taking the action because Palmer sued it -- so far successfully -- over enrollment caps.

Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. said that students needed stability and should not be forced to attend another school. He also suggested that Palmer is unable to raise additional philanthropic funds for its operations like some charter operators, which he did not name.

These organizations "seem to find a way to expand in our communities. Mom and pop shops don’t have that. They’re faced with doing on their own."

Blackwell and Jones spoke early in the meeting. State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, who arrived just before the vote, urged the SRC to table the motion for 90 days until all the facts were known.

Chairman Green assured Thomas that the vote is a beginning, not an end. There will be a hearing in June before a final vote, and Palmer can appeal a revocation to the state, a process that can take years.

Palmer and others complained that the District gave no warning before announcing the intention to shut the school in July and followed the sudden announcement with robocalls to families outlining procedures for choosing alternatives for September.

And Palmer vowed to resist the District's move.

"I am 80 years old, and I will never ever submit, nor ever retreat, nor slide into the night without a fight," he said.

Palmer and CEO David Weathington acknowledged problems at the school, but attributed many of them to the severe circumstances of most of their students.

"We pride ourselves on taking students that nobody else wants," Palmer said. He also said that standardized test scores are not a fair measure of their accomplishments.

Weathington, who started in December, said he was brought in to turn the school around.

"We do have issues, we don’t deny that," said Weathington. "We get kids who were expelled, who come to us two or three years below grade level." He said special education students arrive with outdated education plans, so the school doesn't know what services they need.

SRC members didn't seem to be buying.

While praising Palmer's achievements, Commissioner Farah Jimenez said she was "wounded by expectation that these kids are challenged and so we are challenged to serve them."

If the school doesn't believe in test scores, she asked, "So how are you measuring progress?"

Palmer said, "If we get students stabilized and to a point they can function, academics can't be the first and most important thing." He said that creating a positive climate and culture was foremost.

Some Palmer parents angrily denounced the move. Sultan Ashley-Shah said he would never send his grandchild anywhere else.

"Walter Palmer allows positive development to take place and transforms neighborhoods," he said. "It is one place students can grow and nurture their spirit. We're making gems you have had a chance to polish and refused to do so."

The SRC also heard protests from parents, teachers and students -- most of whom said they don't want Steel and Munoz-Marin elementary schools to be converted to charters. The two schools have been designated by the District as Renaissance schools. Parents will vote May 1 whether to remain in the District with the existing staff or to accept a charter operator -- Mastery for Steel and ASPIRA for Munoz-Marin. The final decision will be made by Superintendent William Hite.

Parents from the two schools, many of them angry, said that it was wrong to ask them to make such a critical decision -- District or charter management -- in a 30-day window at the end of the school year.

During the marathon meeting, speakers also complained about standardized testing, the lack of libraries, and intolerable budget conditions in schools, among other probems.

Students from Youth United for Change renewed their demands for a new food vendor who will provide locally grown, healthy lunches.

The four charters that were renewed are Global Leadership Academy, Franklin Towne Charter High School, Mariana Bracetti Academy, and Philadelphia Montessori.

All agreed to enrollment caps, a practice that is still in legal dispute. A lower court ruled this week that the SRC did not have the power to supersede a more recent state law on the matter.

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Comments (40)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 6:49 am
Interesting that all the rebuttals given by this school are similar to those given by public schools that are stripped from our communities. We have a diverse population with issues that can't be overturned and reflected in test scores, we are underfunded, we have students with violent histories. Well try doing that while organizing, sacrificing, supplying for, and facing constant fears that your school community will be the next to go. Welcome to the real world WPS if public schools arent safe in the accountability era than how would a private school will public funds be?
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on April 25, 2014 9:17 am
I love Janie Blackwell's analysis this charter school "with all the Murals and leadership??? WTF??? Are we providing high performing seats for murals or students? Leadership is a huge deficit? No mention of the billing for phantom students. I guess that is just business as usual in Philly
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 26, 2014 12:28 pm
Maybe all those murals and other frivolous spending a $2.8mil deficit. There's over a hundred and last time I checked, they cost at least $300 a pop, maybe more. The best part? NONE OF THE STUDENT KNOW WHO THE PEOPLE ON THE WALLS ARE! What a joke education in Philly has become. Detroit is what we aspire to be!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 26, 2014 1:20 pm
So you went around and ask the students if they knew who the people in the murals are? You stereotypical thinking is ignorant and is only exceeded by your disdain for art.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 28, 2014 8:33 am
Yes, in fact I did ask the kids and all I received is "I don't know?" or a blank stare. I have no disdain for art. The painting are well done and not fully appreciated in the school. Also, the murals are painted directly on the wall, so if the building is ever sold, they could possible be destroyed if a contractor comes in. Maybe, just maybe, they should have been painted on a canvas? Or maybe they should have spent the money for the paintings on materials for students to use? Maybe some updated text books? That probably would have been a better use of the funds. And murals is by far, no excuse for the failing academics and shady money dealings of Palmers administration. So, continue, what was it you were saying about me?
Submitted by Veteran of the WPHS "Renaissance" (not verified) on April 26, 2014 2:08 pm
Blackwell is the biggest hypocrite. She will defend anyone who ingratiated themselves sufficiently to her, and she gets to define what sufficiently means. She can never be trusted. But she is impossible to defeat. What a city. It is a joke.
Submitted by Lisa Haver on April 25, 2014 9:31 am
"t was a packed and noisy meeting that took more than six hours, with more than 60 people signed up to give testimony." Considering how long the meeting took, and the reason why, I would say it was a pretty quiet meeting. Much of it was spent listening to Paul Kihn read word for word from his power-point presentation on individual charter renewal proposals. The meeting began at 5:30 and adjourned at 11:45. That is not because of the long speakers list; in fact, the student who was #3 on the list was not called up until 9PM. The meeting went on for over six hours because Green approved an agenda which he knew would take hours to get through. Instead of having speakers go at the beginning of the meeting as usual, he made the families who came to speak up for their schools wait--for no good reason. There were pages of text and charts on each charter up for renewal, which Kihn read almost verbatim. There were long unscheduled presentations from charter representatives. There were gratuitous questions from SRC members with long, uninterrupted answers. The three-minute rule didn't apply here. Green was channeling Christie and all of us were the people in their cars on the George Washington Bridge. At one point, Lois Yampolsky got up and asked Green why he was forcing families and children to sit through this, waiting for hours to speak. Green chastised her, saying she should let them go on with the agenda. Just before the meeting adjourned six hours later, Green said maybe they should have done all the charter stuff at a different time and had the public speakers go first. Green and the other SRC members and Dr. Hite should make a public apology at next week's SRC meeting. They should admit that it was a deliberate attempt to silence the parents and teachers who came to speak out for their schools.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 25, 2014 9:45 am
I want to thank Feather Houston for voting against the adoption of the new charter school policy. The new policy is very concerning to me as it was made without any real and reasonable opportunity for the stakeholders and "the public" to understand what is going on and "participate" in its development. The new policy, rather than being developed legitimately, with community input, discussion and debate, was rolled out from behind closed doors and voted on without us even knowing what was going on. All of this is just a sad state of affairs. It makes a mockery of the Sunshine Act and the public's "due process right" to participate in the governance and decision-making of our supposedly public body governing supposedly public schools. It is sad and disheartening to see all of this stuff unfolding before my eyes from the dark rooms of money and politics. The meeting was alarming to me, especially in light of the multiple commenters who raised very legitimate questions about "what is going on." It should be alarming to all of us. It is against the very values of democracy which we teach to our children in our schools.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 25, 2014 11:50 pm
Rich, Which aspects of the new charter school policy should be of greatest concern to the public? It seems that the new policy is an improvement over previously charter school policies. However, I agree that there was a definite lack of debate and discussion regarding the charter school policy. Members of the public were allowed to provide feedback to the District and SRC, but this was in writing. I don't recall any special meetings set up for the purpose of creating discussions or eliciting community feedback on the charter school policy.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 26, 2014 9:02 am
Hi EG: First let me say that, after reading the policy for the first time this morning, I think it is a major step in the right direction in some ways. It certainly needs improvements and additions and should be thoroughly scrutinized by the community and stakeholders. It does have flaws and omissions. The problem I have is the way it was rolled out at the last minute and voted on without enough time for any of us to scrutinize it, digest it, and comment on it. A policy of such importance should be presented to the SRC at least a month before it is voted upon so everyone knows what is happening, understands it, and can comment on its provisions. Not many people at all knew that it was going to be voted on at the last SRC meeting or even knew it had been finalized. These are just a few of my major concerns: (1) I am still looking for the language in the policy which states that the Charter School office reports directly to the SRC. It gives the Charter School Office powers and authority and creates an Executive Director of the Charter Schools Office. It is still under the direction of the Superintendent. (2) Section 407(6) pertaining to Renaissance charters, it states: "The Superintendent reserves the right to recommend matches with applicants that are established outside of the public solicitation process (3.b.v). (3) It states in Section 407(8), Applicability of SRC Policies and Other Laws: "Where appropriate and in accordance with Pennsylvania law, the District may waive or offer exemptions to certain policies or laws when those policies, regulations, or laws may inhibit the implementation of the Renaissance Schools initiative. Exemptions to or waivers from any applicable law or policy shall be identified in each school’s charter agreement. (4) Academic performance is based on nothing more than test scores. That is a myopic view of academic performance, especially in view of the problems with the tests themselves and the fact that each charter school begins with students of varying levels of achievement. A more thorough and complete evaluative process needs to be developed. (5) The issue of "boards of trustees" is not well addressed in the policy at all. (6) Section 407 on Renaissance Charter School needs work and does not address many of the crucial issues which have been raised by stakeholders. I have an issue with Section 407 which provides that RCS's shall be governed by an independent board of trustees pursuant to Pennsylvania Charter School law. Does that mean each RCS should have its own board of trustees or does it mean that Mastery can have one board of trustees governing all of its schools? Which is the better policy and how are its members "elected or appointed" as stated in the Charter SChool Law? (7) In charter management agreements, what should be included. It says that RCS can be operated by agreement. What is included in such agreements? It also says provisions of the policy can be "waived" for RCS. (Chuckle Chuckle). (8) The policy requires SACS but provides no rules for their creation or functioning. Charter schools, in their original intent were supposed to be "controlled by parents, teachers and the community." It only gives those parties an "advisory role." (9) The policy purports to declare when there can be an appeal to the Charter School Appeals Board and when it can not. That is awfully brazen of the district and oversteps their authority. And they are only starters. Read the policy. I think it says "We are going to do whatever we want to to do regardless of what anyone else says, thinks or does. And these are supposed be our "public schools?"
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 25, 2014 11:56 am
I just want to present to the Notebook and our community the testimony of Kate McDowell last night, an 8th grade Masterman student. Her poem should not be overlooked by the Notebook or the SRC as it is so powerful in its simplicity. It says so much about the absurdity of high stakes testing. Kate was number 3 on the speakers list and was forced to sit and wait until well after 9:00 while the charter school stuff "came first" ahead of the students who attended the SRC meeting. Thank you Kate McDowell, you were Awesome -- May I call it -- Kate's Voice -- Yesterday Yesterday we had fun. We were creative. We ran just to see how far we could run. Today Today we sit in rigid rows in claustrophobic columns of desks and write a bit about the difference between two kinds of...oh, I'm not allowed to say. Tomorrow Tomorrow will not be better. We will sit silent in the same rigid rows and claustrophobic columns to fill in a bubble for a letter and to feel our creativity trickle away down a drain. --
Submitted by Morrie Peters (not verified) on April 25, 2014 9:25 am
Jannie Blackwell, Curtis Jones and Curtis Thomas are perfect marks for the privateers and the Pennsyltucky politicians who love watching people eat their own for the relative scraps not stuffed in their own pockets by their overlords. They are the equivalent of AFAM plantation owners that existed and owned slaves in this country. Close to one million dollars was paid to Walter Palmer and his plantation for student/slaves that were not educated there. The politicians are paid and get paid by the Walter Palmer's of the world to create a panacea of murals and smoke that serves to disguise the school to prison pipeline. Blackwell and her coterie believe they are creating job/community centers when in fact they are committing intellectual genocide. Where are the ethical, intelligent leaders of this city?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 11:07 am
Sounds like you have some experience with these folks. Any insight? I am intrigued.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2014 11:29 am
Definitely. They unethically supported the one year moratorium on SDP school closures as well. Consistently unethical.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 11:54 am
Based on Green's comments, the "deal" with Palmer appears to be to get them to shrink their numbers in exchange for staying open. As others have indicated, this is another example of the charter / public double standard. Charters remain open (Trubright, Community Academy, etc.) while public schools are closed in a few months (Stanton, etc.) This is part of the SRC/PSP/Hite/Khin plan - leave a few magnets for public schools and turn the rest over to charters. (Phila. Performing Arts was allowed to expand as STring Theory into a Renaissance and very large high school because of its "success." Yea, the "success" based on operating like a magnet school.)
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2014 11:19 am
Where is that in writing, or in the recent vote?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 11:14 am
I bet if you shrunk their numbers that achievement could possibly go up. Less classrooms, keep the top teachers, less higher ups, etc., etc.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 25, 2014 9:12 pm
To what "deal" are you referring? There shouldn't be a deal. Palmer needs to be shut down, end of story.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2014 11:27 am
So what do we think of the "neighborhood school" rationale/excuse, "we take the most difficult students", now? How about "the parents know best"?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 25, 2014 9:53 pm
The "we take the most difficult students" line is not an excuse, but a reality. There is inherent selection bias in the charter schools (especially the lottery-based charter schools) and the special admission schools because parents who are more concerned and involved will register children for the lottery and encourage their children to apply to special admission schools. There is a place for special-admit schools, lottery-based charter schools, and Renaissance charter schools. But we cannot pretend that these schools serve the same types of children as neighborhood schools do. Neighborhood schools in many cases have become schools of last resort. Some of the problems at schools like Bartram have to do with so many high-needs students being concentrated together. It makes a difference if 15% to 20% of the students at a school have behavior problems versus just 5%---5% is an issue, but 20% is a HUGE issue. At the neighborhood schools and Renaissance/neighborhood enrollment charter schools as well, children sometimes just show up. Children come mid-year because families move. Sometimes, the Office of Specialized Services will transfer students with IEPs mid-year because the family moves or because of a change in the IEP/NOREP. Coming to a school in the middle of the year is less common in the lottery-based charter schools and special-admit schools because enrollment is pre-determined based on a lottery and/or waiting list. I'll say it again until I'm BLUE IN THE FACE: the lottery-based charter schools and special admit schools also typically do not accommodate students with emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, significant autism (often paired with ID), and multiple disabilities. Charter schools get away with it because, as far as I know, there has yet to be a class-action lawsuit which forces charter schools to serve ALL children with disabilities. In terms of "difficult students," having students with emotional disturbance is a particularly big deal. Having so many students with IEPs saddles the SELs and Special Education Teachers with paperwork, legal cases, transportation issues, and crises, and these responsibilities take time and energy away from instruction. If only you could spend a week at my school....
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on April 26, 2014 3:29 am
Renaissance Charters also boot students. Universal Audenreid is notorious for dumping students. THey also claim a "cap" when they don't want to admit a student. The Workshop and new high schools are also lottery based - they will NOT have to accept all students. They will be able to dump students who "don't fit" because they don't have a catchment. The "church" neighborhood schools experience throughout the year creates some of the instability. I'm at a neighborhood high school. We are receiving juniors from charters (Mastery, Universal, PET, Prep Charter, etc.) in mid April. Their Keystone test scores will transfer to our school. Wonder why they were "dumped?" (Mastery also dumps seniors who will not graduate. They are "returned" to their neighborhood high school. Only Mastery Gratz is a neighborhood high school. Other Mastery schools are "lottery" and may pick and chose students. Gratz has an internal "dump" system - 10 - 20% at any time are at an "alternative site.")
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 26, 2014 6:54 am
There are also lottery-based charter schools who take all students and are not expulsion factories. The system creates unfair evaluations that reward schools only serving a "preferred clientele".
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 26, 2014 7:12 pm
By all students, does this include students with intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, severe autism (which often is comorbid with intellectual disability), and emotional disturbance? Are the students with significant disabilities properly served, or are they just sitting in regular ed classes? I'd like to know the names of these charter schools to which you refer.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 12:53 pm
The chickens have finally come home to roost! Walter Palmer Leadership Charter School is one of the worst performing schools ever! They obviously are concerned with those children. They are more concerned with packing in as many kids as they can house. If you really look at the dynamics of the school you will see that there is a high staff turnover ratio. If you do not fit into their mode of thievery then you are out! I hope that someone is inquiring about the qualifications of those running this school. Isn't the CEO the same Principal or CEO from the Cyber Charter School that was just closed??? If the academics aren't their first concern then what should it be? The children that attend this school are experiencing the sames things that other inner city children who attend other area public and charter schools experience on a daily basis. My question is, "Should their low performances be excused because they come from a disadvantaged household? If he recognizes this then it should be more of an insentive to educate, encourage, shape and mold these disadvantaged children to achieve. Stop making up excuses why they fell short of the promises that they made to these children, parents and sponsors! I haven't heard anyone express how safe and productive the climate is at that school. I hear there are serious cases of violence that take place regularly. Do they have adequate books, etc..? Moreover, if the murals are Jannie Blackwells defense for her good buddy Walter Palmer then he is in trouble! WOULD THEY SEND THEIR CHILDREN OR GRANDCHILDREN THERE? Shame on this school and many others for taking advantage of a situation to change the educational system and climate here in Philadelphia and using the opportunity for their own financial gain. Tired of my tax dollars that should be educating our youths being wasted. Shut it down! Smh...
Submitted by but (not verified) on April 25, 2014 12:20 pm
One thing Palmer said that was true is that their is an incestuous relationship among the SRC, PSP and Mastery. It is pretty obvious that Kihn and Hite are working overtime to get Mastery more schools. Even if you don't know anything about the school itself, the way that Hite did this, giving the school two days notice, is pretty suspicious. One parent testified that Mastery was calling the Palmer parents right after the district announced its intentions (giving the school two days notice) and telling them they could bring their children over to Mastery. This, and the way that Hite and Kihn gave Mastery unfettered access to the Steel and Munoz-Marin parents ,really needs to be investigated.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 1:33 pm
Munoz-Marin is Aspira - also an incestuous relationship. Both Mastery and ASPIRA are very anti-union. Both of high staff turnover.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 12:05 pm
I enjoyed the ringing endorsement the girl from Munoz - Marine gave her school: We know our school's performance is bad, but we're not the worst. You might not like Palmer, his school, or what he said, but he did show up. Where were the school leaders from M-M or Steele? All I heard was teachers begging to continue to be paid for the mediocrity they've produced for years. And mediocrity may be a stretch. Dump these losers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 12:02 pm
This is all about money and nothing else. If Walter Palmer didn't double his enrollment, I guarantee the SRC could care less about the school or how it is performing. The city is full of schools that come and go and all that is hurt are the kids. Corruption everywhere you look.
Submitted by tom-104 on April 25, 2014 12:27 pm
Note this PSP tweet: "Mark Gleason's full testimony to the SRC on new charter policies and last night's actions:" Mark Gleason was in the audience for awhile then left. He only gave this testimony in writing. I wonder if he was concerned how he would be greeted when he spoke.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 1:14 pm
For sure. But in addition, someone like Mark is not accustomed to being a regular person, or having to accept the level of disrespect the general citizenship of Philadelphia is subjected to on a regular basis. It must have been a drag to sit there for a while and "make pretend" like he was one of us. I watched him at the meeting and was fully aware he wouldn't wait until close to midnight like several other speakers in order to be heard. Oh yes, what a joke. Mark Gleason is also fully aware that the scam SRC members do as they please no matter what. The public needs to know and respond. Democracy is fully under attack.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 1:52 pm
More of a circus ran by the incompetent , self-serving members of the SRC, namely, Green, and the overpaid officials at the SDP like Hite, Kihn, and many others. All a waste of money. For the politicians that seem to get the butts in high gear when it came to closing a charter school yet not a peep when the traditional public schools close left and right- you are enabling Phila. gross politics and just looking to line your pockets directly or indirectly. Philadelphia,(Nutter included) politics, cronyism, corruption, nepotism is so disgusting with no end in sight. Corbett's agenda is all about Tommy Corbett and his rich allies. Pennsylvania and the city are getting worse all the time and no one is accountable for any of this. Nutter does nothing about anything and the SRC have skewed ideas working in the wrong direction. Time to get the pitch forks and thrown these bums out of town via elections or whatever way it can be done. Why the we allow these creatures to dictate to us their selfish, money-hungry policies? BTW, where was Sylvia Simms? Was she working overtime (lining her pockets with that appointed, made-up job at Comcast) trying to sell that corporate greed and farce high speed internet service ,from a lousy firm like Comcast, to families Comcast thinks is deserving of such. More sickening politics.
Submitted by speaking of which (not verified) on April 25, 2014 2:15 pm
good question. When Lisa Haver asked the SRC if they would promise to honor the votes of the parents at the two schools, none of them said anything. Including Simms, who was appointed by Mayor Nutter to be the "community voice" on the SRC. Hah. She still identifies herself as a member of Parent Power. I guess she means Mastery parents.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 2:19 pm
To the writer questioning as to where the school leaders were last night. They were at their respective schools working as the school year is far from over.... As far as to individuals wanting to keep their jobs and to continue producing "mediocrity...." Steel made AYP until the district added 6-8 to the K-5. Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of the middle years population have only been here for grades 6-8. They are from catchments that have become charters and that due to the caps had to be sent to the remaining neighborhood school in Nicetown or had to leave the charter. I find it interesting, that the majority of students who leave charters to return to neighborhood schools are in immediate need of behavioral support that the district has cut funding for and then uses the increase of behavior incidents as a reason for a turnover.
Submitted by taxpayer (not verified) on April 25, 2014 2:08 pm
Bye-Bye. In a competitive, capitalist marketplace failure is part of the territory. Another will step in and fill the shoes.
Submitted by Lisa Haver on April 25, 2014 2:08 pm
Eileen DiFranco testified (at 11:35, last on the list) that the SRC always seems to have money for what it wants. Hite says today we may have classes over 40, but they just hired a TFA graduate for another made up job. $90K could buy another librarian or counselor, but that's not the priority of Hite or the SRC.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2014 5:06 pm
Fascinating commentary here in the responses. SDP finally adopts policies intended to actually regulate the charter school sector and no kudos and a bunch of whining. What, exactly, do you want from SDP in regards to charters?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 25, 2014 9:45 pm
Dear Notebook, Could you clarify who said the following quotation: These organizations "seem to find a way to expand in our communities. Mom and pop shops don’t have that. They’re faced with doing on their own." Thank you for your consideration. Educator of Great Students
Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on April 25, 2014 10:54 pm

Councilman Curtis Jones.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 26, 2014 12:15 pm
Little known fact: Palmers high School isn't even accredited. They have been few parents that actually research this and immediately pull their kids out. I could understand the fighting if they operated a full staffed, legit high school, but they're not. Palmer wouldn't spend the money for accreditation because it cut into his cronies salaries. Palmer was supposed to phase out thier high school by 2015, according to their last charter renewal. Instead they continued to grow exponentially since their last renewal.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 26, 2014 6:30 pm
The high school was the demise of Palmer. Adding that on was its death sentence.

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