Perhaps they should have talked to some people who work with them. “A documentary being screened in cities around the country, and shown here to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), purports to show how our public schools — and public schools everywhere — are being forced to close because charter schools are stealing ‘their’ money,” Anthony Williams, David Hardy & Sharif El-Mekki write in Real Clear Education. “The notion that the closure of several Philadelphia schools was caused by greedy charter school operators is ludicrous.”
“The primary culprit was a long-accumulating budget deficit (totaling $1.35 billion), brought on by bureaucratic bloat, inefficiency, and declining school enrollment — which saw more than a quarter of school seats empty and left the district with badly underused buildings in need of millions of dollars in repairs.” Williams is a Pennsylvania State Senator, Hardy is a Founder of Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School and Sharif El-Mekki is a Principal at Mastery Charter Schools.
Incidentally, they note that Matt Damon, who narrates the documentary, sends his children to private schools and that the production was bankrolled by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union. “The notion that all Philadelphia’s schools would be great if funding weren’t being diverted to charter schools is also ridiculous,” Williams, Hardy and El-Mekki state. “Many schools remain inadequate — in terms of academics and security — despite infusions of money.”
“Schools closed for poor performance and low enrollment were refunded and reopened, despite the fact that there was (and is) little demand for their continued existence, as reflected by enrollment at just 20 percent of the school’s capacity.”