Philadelphia Charter Schools Offer Opportunity, Hope to the City’s Children
August 29, 2012
During the recent rash of negative publicity about charter schools in Philadelphia, a vital fact has been lost: the fact that most charter schools in Philadelphia are operating at the highest standard of ethical conduct and providing children with a safe learning environment, high quality educational opportunities, and options for a brighter future they would not have had otherwise.
While the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) and Philadelphia Charters for Excellence (PCE) support the investigation of any persons or organizations suspected of any conduct that abuses trust in public education, the negative attention directed at a few charter school operators ignores significant facts.
Nine charter high schools in Philadelphia succeed in getting a higher percentage of their students to college than any traditional neighborhood high school in the city.
College admissions for charter schools in Philadelphia are almost double that of the traditional public schools, 48 percent vs. 25 percent.
A child attending a charter school in Philadelphia is 92 percent more likely to get accepted to college than if he or she attended a traditional neighborhood school.
In 2011, the Philadelphia PSSA percent of advanced or proficient in math was 64 percent for charters and 60 percent for traditional public schools. The percentages in reading were 59 percent in charters and 52 percent in traditional public schools.
In the 2010-2011 school year, Philadelphia taxpayers paid $8,773 less per student to educate a child in a charter school than in a traditional public school.
In the 2011-2012 school year, 206,144 students were part of the Philadelphia public school system, and approximately 25 percent of those students were in charter schools. That’s one of the highest percentages of any major city in the nation. Philadelphia parents understand the real hope offered by good charter schools, and there are an additional 32,000 students on waiting lists to get into these schools.
The sole monitor of brick-and-mortar charter school performance and compliance with the law is the School District of Philadelphia. Any investigation of alleged or actual wrongdoing in any K-12 public education institution in Philadelphia must begin with questions regarding the oversight by the District, which interestingly has a vested interest in both the success and failure of charter schools.
Perpetuating poor quality charter schools is not in the best interests of either the high quality charter schools or the children of Philadelphia. That is why we are supporting the charter reform legislation currently before the state Senate. This legislation would create a strong, independent statewide charter school authorizer, in addition to the district authorizers. This state authorizer will establish strict standards, monitor performance, nurture charters that are doing well, close those that cannot or will not improve and address the problems of lax charter school oversight that have plagued Philadelphia for years.
Accountability in public education should not happen only when articles or stories appear in the media. Accountability is a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute responsibility of good schools and strong authorizers. The best charter schools have always advocated for strong standards, transparency and accountability in the operation of their schools. It is in their best interest to do so, but most importantly it is in the best interests of our children.
About the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS)
PCPCS is dedicated to choice, quality, and accountability in public education. We advocate for legislation and policies that support those objectives and provide assistance to charter schools, with the aspiration of making every charter school in Pennsylvania a high performing public school. More than 105,000 children are enrolled in 167 charter schools throughout the Commonwealth and more than 42,000 are on waiting lists. For more information on PCPCS or charter schools, visit www.pacharters.org.
About Philadelphia Charters for Excellence (PCE)
PCE is an alliance of 28 Philadelphia public charter schools that believes that all parents deserve a choice of quality public school options for their children. PCE members are committed to providing the highest quality education to its students while adhering to the highest standards of academic excellence, fiscal management and public school governance.