PSP Statement on charter approvals and denials

PSP Executive Director Mark Gleason issued the following statement on the SRC decisions on applications for new charter schools:

“While the SRC approved five schools with a history of providing increased educational opportunity to disadvantaged students, PSP is deeply disappointed that nearly a dozen other schools with similar records were rejected despite their desire to locate in neighborhoods where families urgently need better schools. The five approvals will enroll about 650 students per year over the next four years, or 2,600 total, a small fraction of the more than 45,000 kids stranded in schools that aren’t giving them a fair shot at a quality education. The SRC already has voted to close charter schools with combined enrollment of 3,000, which appears to make these approvals a net cost savings for the School District.

“The rejections of nearly a dozen applications submitted by quality schools, combined with the District’s halt of the Renaissance turnaround program since 2013, means missed opportunities to increase educational equity. We are particularly disappointed that the new-charter evaluation reports did not include detailed analyses of schools’ academic results specifically with disadvantaged students.

“On the plus side, the recent infusion of more than $10 million in Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credits for Philadelphia means as many as 5,000 students will have the opportunity to receive scholarships and attend quality private schools next fall. This was made possible by changes in tax-credit rules that passed with nearly unanimous, bipartisan support in the legislature last fall. Over time, this could mean $30 million or more in annual cost savings for the District as students transfer out of district schools.

“Neither cost savings nor the charter rejections change the fact that Philadelphia needs growing, stable and predictable funding for all public schools. PSP is working hard alongside many other organizations to ensure that Pennsylvania enacts a fair school funding formula.

“More than 45,000 students-most of them poor and minority, many of them with special needs-remain stranded in schools that for many years and a variety of reasons have not been effective. PSP’s mission is to create, expand and transform schools so that every student in Philadelphia gets the chance to receive a good education. We remain fully committed to working with public charter schools, private schools and the District to achieve that goal. The city’s future depends on it.”