Last Friday, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) held a charter school accountability rally at City Hall and announced the release of a new report, “RestoringThe Public Trust: Public Accountability for Pennsylvania Charter Schools.” Teachers, students, parents, and community activists called for commonsense regulation and oversight of Pennsylvania’s charter schools to make sure they are committed to properly educating students. Ralliers chanted and held signs that read “Charter schools should serve all students!” and “Fund public education.” Public school champions State Rep. James Roebuck and State Sen. Shirley Kitchen both spoke on the importance of protecting public education and keeping a watchful eye over charter schools.
Loose oversight of charter schools has allowed them to undermine traditional public schools by draining resources from neighborhood schools. Charter schools are funded with public money, but they don’t abide by the rules of the school district in which they operate. They aren’t required to admit all students, and they aren’t always transparent in their governance and budgeting. Last year, the office of state Rep. James Roebuck released a report showing investigations or problems at 44 charter and cyber charter schools in PA.
At the rally, Fight for Philly member and charter school parent Sylana Christopher told the crowd, “Public dollars are going into these charter schools, so why are we being left in the dark about how they operate? It is our right as citizens to know what is happening with our tax dollars. The governing board of any charter school in this city should be required to be an open book to the communities they serve. The best ideas for improving schools come from the students, parents, teachers, school employees and volunteers that are in our schools every day. And speaking of these governing boards – they should be elected students, teachers, and parents! We know best!”
PCAPS released a detailed report, “RestoringThe Public Trust: Public Accountability for Pennsylvania Charter Schools” that introduces a platform to establish more accountability and oversight of charter schools operating in the Philadelphia School District. It’s time we stop giving charters free rein with our money!