SRC Votes on Converting 3 Public Schools to Charter Schools

PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) After several hours of public input the School Resource Commission voted to approve Renaissance matches for Huey, Cooke and Wister Elementary Schools. Applications still have to be filed by the charters that wish to take over but the SRC gave the conversion the go ahead.

"Keep Cooke and Huey public and vote no to any additional charters," said one woman from the podium.

Ahead of the vote, it was a packed room of parents, children and educators all making passionate pleas before the School Resource Commission on the fate of Philadelphia Public Schools.

"I am not judging charter schools. I am judging the idea that charter school proliferation is the road to educational success and equity," said a speaker from the podium.

Thursday night the SRC met to decide whether to turn Cooke and Huey Elementary Schools into charter schools. They were also deciding whether to reverse the decision to allow Wister Elementary to remain public.

"The only ray of hope I had is when Mastery Charter came around," said a parent.

Danyelle Campbell doesn't want her son Devin's school "Cooke" to become a charter.

"I'm really frustrated that it appears as though instead of putting the type of dedication and commitment that they need to into our public schools they're willing to sell them off to the highest bidder," said Campbell. Her son Devin was also at the meeting.

"I got to be honest. My class can be kind of crazy from time to time but when it comes down to it we do our work," said 12-year old Devin.

Others like William Jackson, a father of 5, support the charter conversion for schools the district considers "low performing".

"What's happening at Wister is they're failing there. 3% of the kids are proficient in math. For me thats not accepted. The district has been failing for 8 years so how many resources do we want poured in that hole," said Jackson.

After the decision, President Jerry Jordan of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers released this statement:

"With a stunning, backdoor resolution by Commissioner Sylvia Simms, the SRC voted to convert Cooke, Huey and Wister Elementary Schools to charters, continuing their tradition of ignoring the voices of educators and parents.

"In an effort to improve schools for our children, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers did the right thing by working with parents and educators to develop comprehensive turnaround plans for all three schools. The SRC once again ignored the input of educators, choosing instead to give our neighborhood schools away, despite the questionable performance records of Philadelphia's charter schools.

The decision to convert all three schools is baffling, given our current fiscal crisis. Every new charter school drains millions of dollars from the District's budget. Even more outrageous was the last-minute, underhanded manner in which the SRC voted to convert Wister, which Dr. Hite had recommended to remain a traditional public school. This is another example of the lengths the SRC will go to charterize our schools, and why Philadelphians want to see this body disbanded.

"The PFT has, and will continue to call for a moratorium on new charter schools. Rather than give our schools away, the District should work with parents, educators, and elected city leaders on implementing the community school model in Philadelphia." 

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