Parents Protest Against Charter Schools

PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) Parents and teachers spoke loud and clear in the lobby of the Philadelphia School District building ahead of Thursday evening's School Resource Commission meeting. Most were against the plan to turn three of what the district calls.

poor performing elementary schools, Cooke, Samuel Huey and John Wister, into Charter Schools.
Sheena Williams' son Zaire is a fourth grader at Wister.

"My son is living proof that you can do well in a public school. He's been on the honor roll since the first grade," she said.

Parents and staff packed the public hearing portion of the meeting pleading with the SRC to keep the schools public.

"Keep it a community school. Get the community involved in the school. We don't want an operator going into the school, a private operator that is not necessarily going to be for the community," said Eric Gold who is a 4th grade teacher at Cooke.

Others say the SRC should better include them in the process of deciding the future of schools.

"The parents are saying why wouldn't we have an opportunity to say whether we want the charter or not. They're basically saying you have a choice over what charter provider takes over your school," said Jennifer Ballard. She teaches 1st grade at Huey.

Pastor Pamela Williams is a community activist. She says, "Parents are not going to come to the school because the school has been disingenuous to them. The school has let them down. They have been oppressed by the school and politicians. So we have to find a different way to connect with the parents to say yes your voice matters."

But at least one parent with a daughter in charter schools says don't count them out.

"I watched her flourish in that school. The charter school works. The education she receives now works. The education she is receiving now is going to benefit her long term. We have to give our children the education options here in Philadelphia," said Ameen Harris.

The SRC is scheduled to vote on the issue until sometime in January.