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This is an article by two members of Philadelphia Charter Schools for Excellence, in fact they are leaders of the group.

This is truly a whopper of an op ed.  It in effect says that it does not harm public schools if a student takes 2/3 of the pupil funding with them....though it only leaves about a third for the public school to function.

You can not have highly functioning public schools if you strip them of resources.

I can not believe these charter supporters thought this would be convincing.

Expand charters to help those in closing schools

They are advocating more charter schools as the schools in Philly are being closed.  Neighborhood schools.  Parents, students, teachers have been protesting these closings. No one is listening. I believe 23 last I heard.

In light of the concerns raised by the announcement of school closings in the city, our colleagues at Philadelphia Charters for Excellence (PCE) want School District officials and families to know that we are here, standing by to welcome more students into our schools.

The closings are inevitable for a district that must manage within the framework of a harsh fiscal reality. Given this scenario, the good news is that not only are charters educating children at a fraction of the cost, but they in turn are able to channel more money to children remaining at district schools.

The irony is that the loss of students and per-student funding to charter schools is part of the "harsh fiscal reality."  

The spin is amazing.
Still, many people blame charters for the school closings. Critics say that charters are "draining resources" from district schools or that the money is going to for-profit companies. They want a moratorium on charter growth. What some do not realize is that charters are public schools voluntarily chosen by parents for their children, and almost all in Philadelphia are run by nonprofit entities focused on educating urban youths.
I do partially blame the opening of more charters for the public school closings.  That is the spoken intent of both parties right now....more and more and more charter schools.  Charter schools receive public taxpayer money, but they do have high attrition rates and are not regulated like public schools. Sort of an in-name only thing.

There are large crowds protesting the Philly public school closures. So I guess the reformers are now having to spin more to counteract the negative angry feelings from the public.

If money continues to be taken away from public schools, they will have to adjust their situation and goals to fewer students. That's a real Catch22.

If they become under-utilized, some cities will close them. Thus the neighborhood schools which often serve as community centers will close because they don't have enough students or resources.

It's happening in Philadelphia right now.  From the Philadelphia Public School Notebook:

Mass school closings: Why the numbers don't add up
 

Like most of the public, I’ve been baffled by the District’s latest rationale for closing down an unprecedented number of schools in a single year. In observing the school hearings this week, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou: “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”  

That statement couldn’t ring more true when looking at the District’s proposal to close down one in six Philadelphia schools, including wiping out 9 public schools in the 19121 and 19132 zip codes (plus Vaux will no longer be a high school). The plan will disrupt the lives of 17,000 children in the District – more than 10 percent of the population – for a questionable savings that amounts to barely 1 percent of the District budget.

.....The District comes to the table with a chosen set of facts: utilization, capacity, facilities condition index, and so on. Based on these numbers, the District argues, it is below optimal utilization. The District is shrinking. But is it?

It’s worth remembering that in the spring, the School Reform Commission authorized an unprecedented expansion of more than 5,000 charter seats at a projected cost of $139 million over five years – at a time when Chief Recovery Officer Tom Knudsen threatened that schools may not even open in September. Among the expansions were a 1,400-student high school for Performing Arts Charter, even though the District already has four performing arts high schools drawing from a citywide population. Charters with school performance index figures that ranked them among the worst in the District received five-year renewals and expansions. In fact, of the 26 charters up for renewal last spring, the SRC voted to close just three, and two are appealing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Harsh Fiscal Reality (9+ / 0-)

    It is hard not to conclude that the current harsh fiscal reality is artificially manufactured and designed to produce results exactly like this -- the privatization of functions that used to be under the oversight of democratic government.

    Here we seem to be threatening one of the foundational pieces of our national legacy -- universal, free and public education.

    In all, it looks like we're entering into convulsions as a society that will just lead us to eat ourselves alive. Good luck to all.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 02:44:49 PM PDT

  •  Charter Schools Is A Sham (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Neon Mama, marina, LeftHandedMan

    It gives money to profiteers and leaves student withs poor schooling.  I wonder when people are going to wake up.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 02:47:43 PM PDT

  •  I hate charter schools, no exceptions. (5+ / 0-)

    But I have two observations.

    1) Per-student expenditure in Philly is $16000????? That is astounding, on its own terms and for the shitty results they get.

    2) As noted above, I hate charter schools.  But a formula that sends less than 2/3 of the per-student expenditure to the charter while retaining over 1/3 for the district does not strike me as unreasonable.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 02:48:57 PM PDT

    •  Did you catch this part? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeftHandedMan

      About growing the charter schools at the same time they are saying there are no funds for public schools?

      If you think of schools strictly in business terms and students strictly as products then I could see your POV. But neither is correct.

      This paragraph is telling.  

      "It’s worth remembering that in the spring, the School Reform Commission authorized an unprecedented expansion of more than 5,000 charter seats at a projected cost of $139 million over five years – at a time when Chief Recovery Officer Tom Knudsen threatened that schools may not even open in September. Among the expansions were a 1,400-student high school for Performing Arts Charter, even though the District already has four performing arts high schools drawing from a citywide population. Charters with school performance index figures that ranked them among the worst in the District received five-year renewals and expansions. In fact, of the 26 charters up for renewal last spring, the SRC voted to close just three, and two are appealing."

      •  I think we're talking at cross purposes. (5+ / 0-)

        I think charter schools are stinky garbage.  My fascinated observation is that Philadelphia spends $16000 per student and their results are so awful that there's a permanent market for what the charter school hucksters are selling.

        I am entirely agnostic about school closings.  If you have fewer K-12 students, you should certainly consider closing schools.  That's certainly the case in Pittsburgh, which has lost a lot of its population in the last half century.  I am not familiar with Philadelphia's demographics.

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 03:04:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It seems you against parents having (0+ / 0-)

        an alternative choice to their public school.

        If the charter school is worse than the local public school, it will not survive.  That is a self solving problem.  

        Showing how horrible a charter school is without the context of how horrible the public school alternative is disingenuous.

        Schools should not exist just to collect govt  per pupil funding to give jobs to teachers and administrators.

        Public schools should only be kept open if there are sufficient students requiring the service.

        •  Please read what I posted. (0+ / 0-)

          It actually says that charter schools with poor records were given new 5 yr contracts.

          Charters with school performance index figures that ranked them among the worst in the District received five-year renewals and expansions. In fact, of the 26 charters up for renewal last spring, the SRC voted to close just three, and two are appealing."
    •  It's clear (3+ / 0-)

      16k per student and still this poor. Something needs to change and more money doesn't seemed to have worked. What's next?

  •  One question? (0+ / 0-)

    How long does the charter have to keep a kid before they can boot him/her and keep all the money?  They don't, usually, have to keep kids that require too much time, money or services.

    I am a 67 year old teacher...teaching computer applications in a Texas high school. I've already retired once but it didn't take.

    by 43yearsateacher on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 05:16:39 PM PDT

  •  Well, as long as the private sector is making (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    UnionMade, floridagal

    money at the public trough, who cares about those poor kids.

    Insert snark tag here.

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 06:19:34 PM PDT

    •  If the charter school is horrible (0+ / 0-)

      the parent does not have to keep the kid there.

      More charter school options would be better for poor students.

      By the way, many private companies make a lot of money off of the public school system.

      Building renovation contracts, building maintenance contracts, school lunch contracts, teacher training contracts, health and dental insurance contracts,  school bus and transportation contracts,  classroom equipment contracts,  substitute temp teacher contracts just to name a few.

      Please don't be fooled that that most of the 15K per student to the public school does not end up mostly in the pockets of private industry.

  •  Coincidentally a diarist (0+ / 0-)

    in a ground breaking diary broke down the costs of the Philly district in an enterprising way, showing how charters which cut in on the district's turf, actually lowered the number of passing test scores across the entire district, including both public and charter...  Showing based on results, it is better to have all public, than a mix.

  •  High per pupil spending (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IT Professional

    I do not know what it is like in Philadelphia, but in DC, which faced similar issues, one of the reasons that per-pupil spending was so high was due to high facility costs. So one way to save on costs was to close down many facilities. This was also necessary because the number of students had fallen, and is only now beginning to recover.

    •  With virtual schooling becoming (0+ / 0-)

      more popular, parents will realize that they can first class education for their kids without the negatives of public high school.

      Virtual schooling cost a fraction of public schooling, since the parent/parents co-ordinate the facility.

      It's not for everyone, but problems such as bullying, peer pressure, bad school food and bad teachers can be bypassed with amazing results.

      Wait till the public school tzars, dictators and corporate contractors of public schools get wind of this leak to their funding.  

      •  Eh, I doubt it (0+ / 0-)

        I don't think "virtual schooling" has much of a future. People need teachers. The students and families who care the MOST about education are going to be the ones adamant about demanding good teachers and the least likely to take advantage of "virtual" classrooms. In part this is why so many parents opt for charter schools-- they want a smaller intimate environment for their children to interact with teachers.

        •  There are teachers in virtual schools. (0+ / 0-)

          They just are not in the same room.

          The best teachers are realizing that a virtual school classroom is more satisfying than a physical.

          The more tech-savvy the teacher, the more they will embrace virtual school instruction.

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