PCAPS coordinator Jihad Seifullah testifying in City Council today
My name is Jihad Seifullah. I’m the Coalition Coordinator for PCAPS (Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools) and I’m here today to give testimony. For the last 7 weeks PCAPS has been around the city at more than 50 schools hearing from parents, teachers, and students. The over arching theme that we are hearing is this: 45 million is a start but it clearly is not enough. Now that we have the $45 million we need to put it where it’s needed and does the most good.
Superintendent Hite indicated last week that he intends to funnel $10 million of the $45 million into charter schools. The $45 million was intended to help neighborhood public schools. As a result of the budget shortfall – 24 neighborhood public schools were closed. Thousands of teachers and support staff were laid off from neighborhood public schools. Programs were cut, libraries were closed and students are suffering at neighborhood public schools.
Our public schools are not just dealing with a budget shortfall. It’s a crisis, it’s an emergency, and immediate action needs to happen to bring our public schools out of this crisis.
With this being said, why, then, should charter schools get a cut of the $45 million, when the neighborhood public schools have taken the hit?
Furthermore, between financial mismanagement, lack of oversight and poor student performance, charter schools aren’t working in Philadelphia. Plus, as SRC member Joe Dworetsky put it, “The average net loss to the district when a student goes to a charter school is $7,000 per student.”
When charter schools are already draining resource-starved neighborhood schools of funds, why do they get a cut of the $45 million?
Teachers, parents and students want to make sure the district u – like school nurses, counselors, certified librarians and the clerical support staff that keep the schools running smoothly. Education experts agree: every school needs a school nurse and one counselor for every 250 kids. Our schools, and our kids, deserve no less than these basic resources.