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Takeover or turnaround? The School District's prospects

By James H. Lytle on May 29, 2014 04:25 PM

One of the undercurrents floating among parents and teachers is that the School District’s financial crisis has been created by elected officials and their allies in order to “charterize” and privatize the entire District.

Would this strategy be an answer to the budget problem? Charter schools can be significantly cheaper to operate than District schools, and demand from parents is high and growing. Were the District to become, essentially, a system of charter schools, with the School Reform Commission as authorizer, then perhaps we might have both a balanced budget and happy parents.

It may at first sound far-fetched or overblown, it may not. But it’s a scenario that’s looking like the SRC’s only practicable option other than bankruptcy. Because without substantial funding increases, the School District, as is, cannot be sustained.

The SRC maintains that its hands are tied. It can’t reduce District operating costs in direct relation to charter student out-migration and it has to pay charter schools for transfers in from parochial and private schools – students who have never been enrolled in the District. Nor can the SRC reduce “fixed costs” like debt service or transportation as enrollments decline. The situation creates a conundrum that could be solved by charterizing and privatizating all schools and services.

From the point of view of the governor, state legislature, mayor, and City Council, four successive “turnaround” superintendents (dating back to 1995) have been unable to stabilize District finances and put in place the conditions for sustained improvement in student performance. Nor has state intervention worked. In the view of elected officials, there is no evidence that increased funding would solve the District’s problems.

Since the SRC's creation in 2001, authorizing charter school expansion has been part of the its state-endorsed mission to increase options for students. There have also been forays into privatization, first with the unsuccessful attempt to make Edison Learning the District administrator, then arrangements with educational management organizations, and, more quietly, a contract with Camelot to operate schools for unruly students.

Has what has happened since 2001 actually been just an incremental takeover?

In a typical corporate takeover, a hedge fund, corporate raider, or competitor sees an opportunity to acquire a distressed company at a discounted price, sell off its assets, close non-performing components, downsize the workforce, impose less costly compensation and benefit plans on remaining employees, renegotiate debt, eliminate burdensome policies and procedures, unload costly services, and retain the most attractive parts of the business.

That approach sounds very much like what is emerging in Philadelphia. Close low-performing and under-enrolled schools. Sell the buildings. Press employee organizations for lower salaries and less costly benefits – or threaten to decertify them. Downsize. Continue to turn over to charter operators and for-profit providers the less desirable clients (i.e., those students who are low-performing, special needs, English Language learners, discipline referrals, or returns from incarceration). When the situation reaches a crisis point, there is no alternative but to blow the entire District up.

To mollify demanding parents and accommodate “good” students, take the Center City band of schools, add Penn Alexander, Powel and Central and make them a single organization (an approach already discussed among parents). Create a nonprofit corporation without responsibility for the District’s debts and obligations, and increase revenues for this quasi-charter component through parent contributions and other sources.

The SRC, with a small administrative support office, then becomes a holding company. It renegotiates debts and makes transportation a fee-for-service enterprise. Everyone who matters, except perhaps the bond-holders, has been satisfied and decades of atrophy end.

Of course, substantial questions would still need to be answered. What would be gained and what would be lost if this scenario were to play out?

On the one hand, proponents of school choice would be thrilled – a major American city leads the way. In the eyes of national educational reformers, Philadelphia would now be their neoliberal poster child posed in front of Independence Hall. Most parents would be satisfied, although their children might not always be able to attend their first-choice schools. But regardless, individual preference would be the hallmark, and the books would be balanced.

On the other hand, we are all citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which should remind us that we are “people united by common interest.” Because it is perceived to be in the people’s interest, the Commonwealth requires that all its children be educated at public expense. In Philadelphia that common interest has long meant support for a single public school system, with a robust parochial and independent school network as an option.

The city’s public schools have accepted all children regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief, socio-economic status, special need or spoken language. And the School District of Philadelphia has served a common purpose as reflected in its common curriculum and standards. A strong public school system has been considered in our common interest.

Which should suggest a caution: As our public schools slide inexorably into a new form of organization, we need to keep in mind that markets do not ensure equity, social justice, civic engagement, and opportunity for all.

James H. Lytle is Practice Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, a former District administrator, and a former superintendent in Trenton.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

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Comments (34)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 8:56 pm
About damn time!!!
Submitted by say it ain't so (not verified) on May 29, 2014 9:31 pm
"The opinions expressed are solely those of the author". One would hope.
Submitted by aonymous (not verified) on May 29, 2014 9:53 pm
Is this a parody? A joke? Torch Lytle seems to think he can walk this fine line and suggest he is being objective. I am horrified by this article. There is NO middle ground Torch. Stop pretending. Pick a side.
Submitted by Veteran of the WPHS "Renaissance" (not verified) on May 29, 2014 10:35 pm
See article in the Washington Post today about New Orleans, which just closed its last public school. I guess they beat us to the punch.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 3:12 am
Thank you for the article link.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on May 30, 2014 4:47 am
When a public good, such as public education, is given to the lowest bidder, a market approach, the results are not just no equity, justice, opportunity for all... The results are also economic. The U.S., and Philadelphia in particular, already suffer from the consequences of extremes in poverty / wealth. The extremes increase crime. Even those who live behind gates aren't immune. The Boston Consulting Group "model" - which apparently what some parents at Central, Penn Alexander, Powell (and I assume Masterman, McCall, Meredith, Greenfield, SLA, etc.) are supporting - will further exasperate the inequity and stratification of the District and therefore the city. This strategy may keep a few "middle class" in Philly but it will lead to more flight than fight.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 10:14 am
Exacerbate. But it is exasperating as well. I agree entirely with your comment.
Submitted by inthetrenches (not verified) on May 30, 2014 4:46 am
Is this Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" Philly style?
Submitted by Diane Payne (not verified) on May 30, 2014 7:19 am
Wow....great idea.....sell our children off to the lowest bidder and join the overly successful ranks of the New Orleans School district. They sure are leading the way in privatization and abysmal results. Who benefits from abandoning the public school system?? Those who can cash in on receiving public money, contracts, real estate deals, etc. etc. No outstanding body of research indicates our children will benefit.
Submitted by say it ain't so (not verified) on May 30, 2014 7:46 am
The last three paragraphs give the true message. Torch, you may have to come back and spell it out more for us.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 8:58 am
The key to understanding why all this is happening is this: district schools haven't been able to keep parents in the system. Blaming the charters or nefarious "corporate reformers" behind the curtain is like Coca cola blaming the customers for not buying Coke II. It's not their fault, they didn't buy it because it stunk.
Submitted by tom-104 on May 30, 2014 9:13 am
This is a schizophrenic view of our situation. The bulk of the article presents corporate education reform as inevitable. But it concludes, "We need to keep in mind that markets do not ensure equity, social justice, civic engagement, and opportunity for all." This budget crisis was not inevitable. There has been a conscious choice by much of the corporate and financial community to follow the theories of economist Milton Friedman to privatize schools. To accomplish this, public schools have been under funded and then demonized as failing in order to open non-union, unregulated charter schools. This article illustrates what happens when you try to take a middle position on two sides that cannot be reconciled.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 9:22 am
What this article does not point out is all the spending waste that has happened at 440 and especially by the last couple of Superintendents that the PSD has had. Arlene Ackerman spent money that did not exist on her Renaissance Schools, having two drivers that each made $60K a year, hiring many of her friends at 6 figure salaries that bloated the already over extended budget at 440, and leaving with a $900,000.00 payout even though she had violated the terms of her resignation by speaking negatively about the Mayor, SRC, and City Council. I am sure these are only a few of the ways that she wasted good taxpayer money. The SRC and Michael Marsh stood back and let her do it, let her put the PSD further into a hole of financial ruin. Now Hite also has at least one driver that makes around $60K. (Why these people can't drive themselves around is beyond me, or take a cab??) Hite has also hired many of his friends at 6 figure salaries, while he has laid off 3,800 teachers and staff. What is most strange is that he has hired a new hiring recruiter at 90K with a Teach for America background while thousand are still laid off. Does this mean he never intends on hiring back anyone that is still laid off, but plans to recruit Teach for America employees instead? Between Ackerman and Hite, the SRC in it's great wisdom allowed hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spent on The Boston Consulting group and Chief recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen. What differences did these consultants make for the PSD after all the money was spent on their services? And why has the PSD not had an audit since 1988? There are so many reasons as to why the school district is in the financial mess that it is in. If the SRC had wanted the district to prosper it would have reined in Ackerman's and Hite's spending. I imagine the reason they gave Ackerman almost a million dollars to leave, even though she violated her agreement, is because she must have had dirt on all of them too. There is no other rational reason I can think of to do so! when articles such as these are written, please include all your facts before speculation. Also, in case you haven't been reading the news much, many Charter School seem to have just as corrupt spending habits as the PSD. Perhaps, all schools need yearly financial audits!
Submitted by Marc Brasof (not verified) on May 30, 2014 10:48 am
Torch's framing works, but perhaps there are other ways about sustainability and school improvement. 1. Actually put tremendous pressure on city AND state officials to ensure an equitable funding formula. Rejection of the budget is a step, but using the court system seems necessary at this point. See Vermont/ as an exemplar. 2. End private schools. Creating a two-tiered system where the wealthy go to one set of schools and the rest go elsewhere is a deeper, more systemic cause of our deteriorating public schools. Public schools were essentially eliminated in Finland, for example. 3. Halt and refuse to put any funds into testing. It is very expensive and testing a population that clearly doesn't have the services it needs to perform is an unaccountable accountability system. Instead, measure schools Opportunity Gap--how ready are schools to service students. Our only measure seems to be per pupil spending. This is only so helpful. 4. The district should approach universities (the other way around does not seem to work so well) to help with human resource capacity issues. Universities have very talented educators both trained and in training. They can help soften the blow of the loss of personnel over these past few years to some extent. 5. Eliminate the SRC and replace it with an locally elected/appointed board. The SRC's agenda is finally becoming clearer to more Philadelphians--privatization. If the private options were significantly better in terms of delivering high quality teaching and learning, I'd say go this route. But for the most part, they are not. Efficiency is getting more outputs for the input one puts into a system/experience/etc. But that output is not "less costs," it is getting more of what we value. In this case, it would be high quality teaching and learning and the necessary supports for children and communities to ensure the conditions for achievement are present. This is not something a school district budget can achieve alone. Therefore, more active participation with a wide range of citizens needs to be cultivated. The SRC is cultivating privatization and dissent instead. -Marc
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 10:36 am
I think you mean Finland eliminated private schools. Yes, that would be incredibly helpful from a theoretical standpoint. I agree with you, but it obviously won't happen. Our entitled rich like things the way they are.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 3:26 pm
Eliminating private schools is only the necessary first step. It will require eliminating the first amendment, but such sacrifices are necessary for the greater good. We must also take measures to ensure real equality where the children of the rich (and anyone with bourgeois values) are forced to attend the school of our choosing. This will require serious measures. Setting up checkpoints surrounding the city to keep these anti-social rich people from fleeing for starters. BTW, this will also be necessary to keep cigarette smugglers out of the city. I believe we also need to prepare reeducation camps for anyone who doesn't recognize that their desire for a quality education for your children is a very selfish and anti-social notion. Engineering a more just society by changing human nature IS a messy business and there WILL be casualties. But we must be prepared if we are to achieve our dreams of true equality in Philadelphia.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 3:35 pm
I know you meant this as satire, but the opposite is the reality. Low income families are being returned to segregation through the setting up of a two tier education system where low income students will be segregated and prepared for the school to prison pipeline. This is not satire. It is reality.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2014 11:19 pm
Let's say for the sake of argument that there are two tiers, mediocre and good. Is an alternative where there is only one tier of mediocre more just? The district status quo ante charters WAS highly segregated racially and socioeconomically (80% minority, even more when you eliminated the magnets) and (again ignoring the magnets) below mediocre.
Submitted by Publius1788 (not verified) on May 30, 2014 3:02 pm
Dear Mr. Brasof, 1. Vermont always seems to come up in discussions of funding formulas. The system the Vermont state government adopted to fund K-12 public education, after a court order, has several positive characteristics. Some in Harrisburg will note that Vermont public schools are spending about $17,000 per pupil and Philadelphia is spending almost $19,700. The point is that many on this site believe that “an equitable funding formula” means more money for Philly Schools. As I have shown before, even if state funding for all the school districts regularly scorned on this site -- Radnor Township, Lower Merion, Springfield, etc. – is eliminated and that funding is redistributed; Philly’s cut per student is not that significant. This is because Philly’s funding needs are not that much different than Allentown, Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Pittsburg, Reading, Scranton, and others. (Let’s not forget the rural poor.) If Vermont is the correct model, Harrisburg will demand a $2,700 per student refund. On the subject of money, the proposed severance tax on natural gas production in Pennsylvania (“Tax the Frackers”) will not be the panacea the candidates for governor and some observers have indicated. At best Philly’s cut will be about $700 per student. 2. Finland is not a good example by any measure. The U.S. has a long tradition of private education that has served us well. By the way, these schools are not just for the wealthy. When I was growing up many lower and middle class families in Philadelphia sent their children to non-public schools. I believe the Courts would find any attempt to close private schools unconstitutional. 3. Standardized testing is and probably will always be a given. It is not very expensive nor should it require much preparation time. (They even use testing in Finland.) 4. Getting assistance from local universities is a good idea. Many years ago, when I was studying at a Philadelphia university, many students volunteered to coach, teach and mentor in local schools. I have to say that these efforts were well received by Catholic school teachers, but public school teachers were less receptive. 5. Getting rid of the SRC is a good idea, but will change nothing. Go Frankford High! Sincerely, Publius 1788
Submitted by Marc Brasof (not verified) on May 31, 2014 11:11 am
1. I'm not sure where you get that per-pupil spending number. Those numbers counter what I have seen. Urban and rural districts need more money to counter the tremendous burden of social services. Asking city teachers to share this burden is shameful and does not recognize the fact that they are some of the lowest paid teachers in the state. Yet, they have the most difficult teaching jobs. So, yes, equitable means more for those centers. What is correct about Vermont's model is that more state-wide funding is placed into local school systems, and that additional taxation (luxury taxes)s was created to help with that gap. Too much weight is placed on local property taxes in PA. And, the state would also need to reapproach federal government about the transition of financial burden of medical costs to from federal to state level for instance, which put more financial strain on state budgets. Of course, there seems to be other sources of revenue not tapped into. Ultimately, you want an excellent school system and a sustainable state, more funds are necessary. Local bond referendums often fail to be passed. Costs of services increase and buildings are falling apart. It is part of the cycle and budget increases have not accounted for this. Moreover, the state did not address pension gaps in the past and now we have a perfect storm. 2. Finland is a model to learn from in many ways. History is not a reason to keep private schools. They were successful because of $$, small class sizes, and freedom to build high quality curriculum, among other reasons. All children deserve that. We have no future as a prosperous nation under the current model of haves and have nots. Put rich kids in public schools and watch the powers that be make those schools amazing. 3. Finland does not use test scores to close schools, nor do other highly successful educational systems internationally. And, those tests are delivered and scored by the schools themselves, with only a portion of students being test as a sample (finland again). That makes testing less expensive while still providing locals with information. Samples are all that are necessary to inform curriculum implementation effectiveness. Moreover, teachers in Finland are provided with a free masters education and learn how to engage in action research, which then schools provide real time weekly for teachers to engage in such research, creating useful data. This model has helped to truly build their schools' capacities to change and improve. Finally, teachers in the U.S. spend so much time on testing preparation out of fear and compliance, weeks/months are lost. The system is corrupt and not helping, and research illustrates that it is undermining student-centered teaching practices, creating tremendous amounts of anxiety in children, etc... Remove the high-stakes testing regime and replace it with more sound systems, and, eliminate punitive policy mechanisms. They are not helping either. Anyone willing to argue counter? I would love to take that debate on in a more public forum.
Submitted by Publius1788 (not verified) on May 31, 2014 4:24 pm
Dear Mr. Brasof, Sir, The spending per pupil number I used comes from dividing spending by the number of students. (SDP budget ($2.6 billion) divided by students (131,362)) This is the truest measure and allows an apples-to-apples comparison with spending in other districts. There are many excellent school systems that spend far less. I would agree that Philly schools need more money but we must be realistic about what is in the realm of possibility. The PFT could start by demanding that the city council agree to provide all of the state authorized temporary sales tax money (estimated at $120million) or face recall challenges. Additionally, the City should put all the money from selling new taxi permits to paying down some of the school system’s debt. (Ms. Gym has demanded the money; however, I have not seen suggestions on how to use the money.) The next thing we need to do is demand a workable plan from the governor’s challengers. “Tax the Frackers” is a good campaign sound bite, but is not a plan. The best estimate for increased revenue from a natural gas severance tax will yield about $700 per student. (This is a very optimistic.) Your idea of closing all private schools may help Philly schools in the distant future. I believe the children of Philadelphia need a near-term plan. Pax tecum, Sincerely, Publius 1788
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 2, 2014 2:11 am
Some things to note. The total spending on the State's website for home districts includes the charters, therefore you need to add the charter enrollment to the traditional school enrollment before dividing. The total enrollment (for 2012 -13) should be 192,136, not 131,362, and the per child spending then about 2/3 the figure calculated with just the traditional, or $13,469 instead of $19,700. Referencing previous articles on the Notebook, just instruction spending (excludes capital, debt, transportation) is $8,000 to $9,000 per child regular ed, and $19,000 to $20,000 per child Special Ed. For regular ed then, the spending exceeds some of the area Catholic private schools' tuition. Another note, Finland takes just the top highest % of their academic achievers to become teachers. They do test their children, but far less frequently. Interestingly, their success is written about in business journals which generally consider "the bottom line".
Submitted by Publius1788 (not verified) on June 2, 2014 12:15 pm
Dear Ms. Cheng, Thank you for the information. I accept your $13,469 per student spending figure. This is still well within the norm across the country and higher than many excellent school systems that I am personally familiar with. I cannot accept the “just instructional spending” spending number. School budgets – like any other budget – must include all costs. The school budgets in rural school districts often spend higher percentages on debt and transportation than Philly. (I must say that Philly and Pennsylvania make getting basic budget information more difficult than most of the country.) I do not believe Finland – a Nordic country with a small population – provides a realistic model for how to change education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or the United States. I worked with several Finns in the Balkans. They told me about their education system. There are numerous aspects of their education system that the reformers on this site would not advocate. Examples include: almost no preschool (the Headstart advocates would not like this); and standardized testing in 9th grade to determine the roughly one third of students allowed to proceed to gymnasium – high schools for students going to college—(this is ‘high stakes’ testing at the highest stress level). I am willing to bet that several of the teachers at my local high school are academic peers or better than the best that Finland has to offer. Finally, some on this site might take offense that you do not consider them to be among the country’s best and brightest. Sincerely, Publius 1788
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 2, 2014 1:19 pm
Publius 1788, keep in mind that Philly has been losing school age children (per U.S. Census) for some time. The total enrollment for 2004-5 (per State website, that includes charter) was 212,520, compared to the 192,136 for 2012-13. The SDP has not been able to adjust its infrastructure to the falling enrollment, and therefore the cost per child has increased, as the enrollment has fallen, a factor added to by charter transfers. The "instruction only" cost is what is used to calculate per child payment to charters. You can see that if this cost is inflated by lower enrollment in the home district, it subsequently will be multiplied by the number of charter enrollees, and add to the overall per child spending for the home school district, even if there are no extra benefits for the traditional school students. Yes, the State's spreadsheets are very user unfriendly. Yes, Finland's system could not likely be duplicated here. Being highly selective of who can become a teacher may not work in our/a culture less homogeneous, but at least it gives the teachers more respect, which they definitely deserve. I haven't had the time to read this, but perhaps you have read, "How It's Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools" by Karin Chenoweth? There's also the Green Dot Charter schools in L.A. (teachers are unionized) which have had success without "creaming" their students. Such things as teamwork, and smaller classes have been used successfully, but not with an administration as we currently have with the SDP.
Submitted by Publius1788 (not verified) on June 2, 2014 8:00 pm
Dear Ms. Cheng, I will order and read Ms. Karin Chenoweth’s book. Thank you for the suggestion. Public school teachers should not worry about respect. The people who matter respect the teachers who are worthy of respect. If you are a public school teacher; let me say, “Thank you for your service.” My mother was an Ivy League educated chemist who taught in public schools -- Junior High Science -- most of her adult life. She was a saint and all who mattered in my life respected her. I will look into the Green Dot Charter schools in Los Angeles. I will confess that I have a bias against California schools and the teachers’ union in California. I spent much of seven years in California and my children attended elementary school for several years there. Of the ten different states where my wife, my children or I have attended public schools, California was by far the worst. Here are some stories to illustrate the point. When I was home, I always made an effort to stress education and to work with my children on their homework. My oldest son had a spelling test every week. Week- after-week, I admonished him for failing to copy the spelling words correctly. His list of spelling words always had misspelled words. At that point in his life, he wanted to be an astronaut. I told him that to follow his dream he needed to pay attention to the details and copy the spelling list correctly. One evening after a long drive home to assist him with his homework, I found that his spelling word list contained misspelled words. He told me that he had copied the list correctly. I went to the school and looked through the window. The teacher, a true professional, had misspelled several words on the list of words written on the board. I ask, “How hard is it for a teacher to open the dictionary before writing the spelling words on the board?” The same year, my younger son had a teacher who was physically unable to teach. He often passed-out or went to sleep in front of the class. This problem was well known by the principal – whose car was gone from the parking lot within seconds of the last bell – and the district administrators. Week-after-week, I met with the principal or others and was told they could do nothing. All of the teachers in the school knew the teacher was incompetent, but they and their union protected the incompetent teachers. There were numerous parents who had taught school in other states but could not get a teaching certificate in California, who were ready to teach the class at no cost to California. The district resisted. This is the same district that demanded bottled water from parents because they could not be bothered to budget for water. (Most classes were held in portable classrooms that did not have plumbing. Water is critical to life but the school district did not find it important enough to provide. I will not address the bathroom procedures or providing toilet paper.) There was always money for silly things. Sincerely, Publius 1788
Submitted by Marc Brasof (not verified) on June 4, 2014 8:57 am
Look equitable to you?
Submitted by Publius1788 (not verified) on June 4, 2014 11:37 pm
Dear Marc Brasof, If this comment was direct to me; no it does not appear equitable to me. I am not sure how this relates to any of the thread above. I will repeat a comment from above. The PFT could start by demanding that the city council agree to provide all of the state authorized temporary sales tax money (estimated at $120million) or face recall challenges. If Philly Schools got all the money rather than only the half the city council is willing to give the schools, they could hire nurses and counselors. QED Sincerely, Publius 1788
Submitted by Publius1788 (not verified) on June 4, 2014 11:50 pm
Dear Marc Brasof, If this comment was direct to me; no it does not appear equitable to me. I am not sure how this relates to any of the thread above. I will repeat a comment from above. The PFT could start by demanding that the city council agree to provide all of the state authorized temporary sales tax money (estimated at $120million) or face recall challenges. If Philly Schools got all the money rather than only the half the city council is willing to give the schools, they could hire nurses and counselors. QED Sincerely, Publius 1788
Submitted by huh? (not verified) on May 30, 2014 10:47 am
It seems like there are two different editorials with different points of view. I agree, Torch needs to clarify what he is trying to say here.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on May 30, 2014 11:54 am
Charters are bleeding the district white and it has no control. It cannot function as a private/charter system and it must be one or the other. Charters have the favor of the polititicans and will prevail. Even though most of the kids in my neighborhood high have been expelled from a charter somewhere along. Thus even though they do not want a lot of the kids that are in the public system they will get soon when they destroy what is left of public schools. Katrina hit in August 2005. Paul Vallas came in the Fall and in 9 years the city is 100% charter. Cheaper, more segrgated and stratified. If you work at and know the system you can keep you kid away from Poor people. If you are racist and know the system you can keep your kid in an almost all white charter (like MasT & Franklintown in Philly?). When will Philly get to this point. Depends on when you say we had our Katrina. If it was Ackerman's firing than 2019. If it was last years layoff than 2022. If this year's crisis than 2023. Anyone interested in joining a pool on what Public Schools are the last to close???
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 12:56 pm
New Orleans also has a far better graduation rate among minority students in those charter schools than Philly has ever had. Gee, the horror.
Submitted by tom-104 on May 30, 2014 3:48 pm
Actually, you do not know what you are talking about. Let this Louisiana teacher set you straight. Also, see here:
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 30, 2014 11:05 am
Torch my good friend: I am scratching my head on this one. When you turn public schools into a nonprofit organization, it ceases to be a public school and is not a public organization. Whenever that occurs, students, parents and the community have less rights in schools. Instead of citizens they become customers where the only right is to "like it or leave it." Have you not read, Diane Ravitch's book, Reign of Error -- The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools? It is not cheaper or better to run schools as private business organizations. Since the state takeover of our schools and the privatization of Philadelphia's schoolhouses, the budget has mushroomed out of control. It now costs us approximately twice as much money for roughly the same amount of students in both public and charter schools. Inflation has not doubled in the same period of time. We now spend more money for less services directly to children and worse results than ever before. Do you now support the corporate raid on our public schools to turn them into vehicles for profit? Have you bought into the psychobabble of privatization? We all know "Students First" really stands for "Corporations First." So does PSP. Do you support students, parents, teachers and principals, and the community of Philadelphia, or do you support corporations who are nothing more than profiteers? Torch, this is Migliore you are talking with -- think a little more deeply.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2014 2:27 pm
So, a city run school district without charters would ensure "equity, social justice, civic engagement, and opportunity for all". Is that a joke? Just like back in the golden age of Philadelphia education in the 1990's.

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