Philadelphia denies 3 charter school applications

Board vote may indicate a rethinking of the role of charter schools in the district.

The Philadelphia school board has denied three new charter school applications. reports that members of the board, appointed last year as the city took back control of its schools from the state, cited weak applications by the proposed charters’ leaders.

Board members say the applicants failed to demonstrate they could fulfill their promises, either because they didn’t provide curriculum details or proof of demand for the schools, or because their existing schools didn’t warrant replication.

They also indicated they were looking more broadly at the role of charter schools, which enroll about 70,000, or one-third of public school students in Philadelphia.

The state-controlled School Reform Commission, which governed the school district for 17 years, was generally seen as warm to charters. It approved three last year. Philadelphia has 87 charter schools.

The applicants denied were Frederick Douglass Charter High School; Joan Myers Brown Academy; and Tacony Academy

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers opposed the new charters, as did traditional public-school advocates, who told the board that Philadelphia cannot afford more charter schools.

Donna Cooper, the executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, says the vote reflects an evolution in the charter consideration process.

“We have all evolved to be able to make better judgments on what is quality and not quality,” says Cooper, a former aide to Gov. Ed Rendell. “Based on what I understand from these applications, they were just not well done."



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