The following is in response to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s political cartoon from Thursday, June 6 (Pa. cyber schools got their report card) from Ana Meyers, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS). Please note, the Inquirer chose not to publish this response.
Unfortunately, I cannot say that I was shocked to see the disrespectful and misleading political cartoon published by The Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday, June 6 (“Pa. cyber schools got their report card”), but I do believe that the thousands of students and their families who have chosen to enroll in a public cyber charter school deserve more respect and a greater reliance on facts in the Inquirer’s opinion pieces.
The cartoon, which was in response to a report released by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) on charter school performance, failed to accurately reflect the findings of the report. For one, the CREDO report clearly shows that Pennsylvania’s charter school are educating: a higher percentage of students in poverty compared to traditional public schools (66 percent compared to 43 percent); a higher percentage of special education students than district schools (16 percent compared to 15 percent); and a significantly higher percentage of black students compared to traditional public schools (43 percent compared to 12 percent). Additionally, in urban areas (like Philadelphia) charter schools are producing better outcomes for low-income, minority students compared to the school district.
Conveniently, the Inquirer also seemed to base this cartoon on the interpretations of the report offered by anti-school choice groups and condemned cyber charter schools without considering the families who have chosen these schools. Parents choose cyber charter schools because their child is not being well-served by their traditional public school and the demand for charters grows every year…what does that say about Pennsylvania’s school districts? Perhaps the Inquirer’s opinion editors should go back and read an article written by their own reporters in February on the “nearly 30,000” students in Philadelphia who applied for a charter school in the 2019-20 school year.
It is my hope that in the future the Inquirer will respect the choices of Pennsylvania’s families who seek an educational option outside of their school district.