Charter Schools Call on Philadelphia’s Elected Officials for Support
PHILADELPHIA – Students, parents and leaders from public charter schools across Philadelphia convened at City Hall today, calling on city leaders to sign a commitment statement publically supporting charters. The critical issue was raised as 35 percent of all Philadelphia public school students attend charter schools, representing 70,000 charter school students and their families.
The statement included three proposed commitments for the city’s elected leaders to endorse, including:
1. A promise to ensure every child can attend a high-quality public school, whether district or charter operated.
2. Transparent and fair charter renewal agreements and charter amendment policies.
3. A new school board that reflects, represents and respects all public school students, in both charter and district schools.
Crystal Morris, the mother of two sons who attend Boys’ Latin Charter School said if it were not for charter schools like Boys’ Latin, her sons might be destined to attend the local district high school: a school where only three percent of students are proficient at math, 52 percent earn a diploma, and only 21 percent of graduates go to college.
“Who deserves to go to a sub-standard school?” she said. “Certainly not my children or the children of those I care about. How about your children, your nieces, your nephews? Instead, my sons attend a school at which ninety percent earn a diploma and eighty seven percent go on to college. More students deserve the type of opportunity my sons have had at Boys’ Latin.”
The chair of City Council’s Education Committee, Jannie Blackwell, hosted the event. Other members of Council, Mayor Kenney and state and federal legislators were also invited to participate and sign a statement in support of these three important issues. Councilwoman Blackwell said she was impressed by the support from the charter school students and their families.
Other City Council members who publically showed their support were Allan Domb, Bobby Henon, Curtis Jones, Jr., David Oh, Mark Squilla and Al Taubenberger.
William Jackson, the father of four students who attend two Mastery Charter Schools, Wister Elementary and Mastery Pickett, said the new School Board must represent all students, district and charter.
“The School District’s Charter Schools Office continues to insist on charter renewal terms that jeopardize the very future of charter schools,” said Jackson. “Several charter schools, including Mastery, have refused to sign because the terms being offered are restrictive, unreasonable and lack transparency regarding how schools will be evaluated. My older son has not had an easy path – still doesn’t. But the teachers at Mastery Pickett were able to love and support him until he was able to love himself. Honestly, Mastery saved my son. We demand that the District’s Charter Office negotiate fair renewal agreements – so that great charter schools can thrive and not be slowly strangled by ridiculous rules.”
Toya Algarin, whose youngest son attends KIPP Philadelphia Charter School, said after years of searching for a school that wouldn’t just pass her children through a system, she found KIPP. Her son was reading at a third-grade level when he entered and in one year, was up to grade level.
“He was learning and growing, he felt safe, and most importantly, he mattered.” Algarin said. “As the city’s education landscape begins to shift, it is important that we keep all children and families in mind. It is important all voices have a seat at the table because all of our children matter, regardless of zip code or school type. And that begins with establishing a school board that focuses on the well-being of not only traditional public schools, but also the charter schools.”