Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, a labor-community coalition representing school workers, parents, and students, stands firmly with Steel parents and the Nicetown Community in opposing the conversion of the last public school in the neighborhood to a charter school.
First the District starves our schools, then faults them for not performing and sells them off to charter operators as if they were bankrupt real estate. Renaissance schools cost the district thousands of extra dollars per student over traditional neighborhood schools, but students don’t see any of this money. During a time of extreme budget cuts that have decimated counselors, arts programs, sports, teachers, and schools staff, the district wants to send some of its scant funds to Mastery Charter which wants to control all the schools in this part of the city.
As Steel parent Nikki Bagby said ““Charters should be a choice of individual parents – they should not be forced on entire school communities.” Charter schools are run as private businesses with little accountability to the public. Charter conversion means Steel’s experienced staff, many of whom have been there for decades, would be lost and replaced. This is not fair to teachers or good for students who depend on strong, nurturing relationships with adults they know.
We believe strong public schools that serve all children are the foundation of a democratic society. We need to invest in our public schools to make them better.
We need schools that offer the things that most suburban communities take for granted – experienced, qualified teachers, low class size, arts and music, counselors, certified librarians and nurses. That’s what the District should be fighting for.
Instead the District has launched a costly process to help out charter operators without first consulting the community. And now it seeks to make this decision in a matter of weeks. Once again the SRC shows little respect for the communities that depend on public education.
We applaud the actions of Steel parents and the Concerned Neighbors of Nicetown and pledge our support in this fight.