Staff attorney Michael Churchill offered testimony on Wednesday, urging the School Reform Commission not to approve 39 new Philadelphia charter schools.
The Law Center believes that now is not the time to approve the charter schools for two reasons: first, because there are insufficient protections to ensure that these applicants will equitably serve students with disabilities and second, because opening these new charters will imperil the thorough and efficient education of the 140,000 students in traditional district schools.
The charter applications are deeply flawed especially in regard to the needs of students with disabilities. Mr. Churchill said, “Philadelphia charter schools received more than $175 million last year to educate special education students but spent only about $77 for that purpose. This is unconscionable.”
There is also no research to suggest that the proposed charter schools will be able to provide better services for students with disabilities than traditional schools. And, if children already are not receiving adequate education, removing funding from traditional schools can only make things worse.
Mr. Churchill said, “Chairman Green and Superintendent Hite have stated that the District is unable to provide its current students with the thorough and efficient education they are entitled to under the Pennsylvania constitution. Given that dire financial situation, it would be folly to further reduce the funding available for those students’ education by approving charters serving a select few.”
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