Philadelphia News & Search
Ahead of a School Reform Commission meeting to determine the fate of 10 city charter schools, state House Speaker Mike Turzai has again blasted the agency’s actions on charters.
Charter officials say the Philadelphia School District has issued an ultimatum, forcing them to agree to provisions that violate the charter school law and squeeze them unfairly over enrollment and other issues.
Turzai suggested that the SRC’s actions may have consequences for Philadelphia as the district seeks an increase in state aid.
Turzai, who has long been interested in Philadelphia charters, sent a letter to SRC Chair Joyce Wilkerson on Monday saying he and others are “deeply concerned” about the commission’s actions.
“The School District of Philadelphia is trying to drastically overstep both the spirit and the letter of existing charter school law in Pennsylvania,” Turzai wrote, suggesting that provisions insisted upon by the district might mean the schools “cannot continue, or at the very least purposely make it difficult for them to operate.”
Turzai noted the timing — lawmakers are entering budget season.
“It is tough to justify increases in expenditures to the School District of Philadelphia if the additional money is going to pay for lawyers to draft contracts which go beyond the scope of the law,” said Turzai.
He suggested the SRC’s actions disrespected those families who choose charter schools for their children.
“When will the district accept that these public charter schools serve our students in Philadelphia and are here to stay and should be here to stay?” said Turzai. “Just as we fully respect those students and parents that send their children to traditional public schools in Philadelphia, one size does not fit all.”
Twenty-three charters were set to be considered for renewal this spring; just 10 will be voted on Monday. Several schools did not sign the charters they were sent because of concerns.
A rally against the SRC’s demands for charters is planned for 2:30. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
The schools up for consideration are Alliance for Progress Charter School, Laboratory Charter School of Communication and Languages, Memphis Street Academy Charter School at J.P. Jones, Multicultural Charter School, Preparatory Charter School of Mathematics, Science, Technology and Careers, Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School, Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School, Universal Creighton Charter School, West Oak Lane Charter School and Wissahickon Charter School.
Nonrenewal has been recommended for Memphis Street Academy and Lab Charter.
Philadelphia News & Search