(18th in a series on Education and Charter Schools)
“Our children have a backpack full of cash, and the schools should vie for the privilege of having that backpack turned over to them.”
Last week the BASD Proud Parents (sorry, I used the wrong name in the past few posts) showed the documentary Backpack Full of Cash at Nitschmann, a film focused on the Philadelphia school system, “ground zero” of the school choice movement. The film is highly critical of charter schools, and, though Bethlehem is quite different than Philadelphia, the film was timely for us and valuable.
But, first, Gadfly wants to say something about BASD Proud Parents. The Gadfly project is allll about citizen engagement, and BASD Proud Parents is allll about that as well! Take at look at their great web site (now linked on the Gadfly sidebar as well), and be sure to listen to their thoughtful representatives on the audio linked below.
So, again, this film is highly critical of charter schools and other forms of school choice that are draining students and dollars from the public school system.
A reminder of some facts presented earlier in this series of posts: approximately 2100 BASD students attend charter schools (12 different ones but 50% at one particular charter school), about 13% of the total student population, at a cost of 29 million in charter tuition this year, which is roughly 10% of the budget.
The film trailer will provide you with some good soundbites that illustrate the core issue, such as “reformers say all that money [$600 billion] can be managed more efficiently if the system is run like a business” v. “It’s about privatizing, not improving public education.” Take two minutes and listen to the trailer for a good introduction to the issues.
After the film, Julie Gallagher (no relation) and Emily Schenkel gave a brief presentation that Gadfly recorded and linked for you here, with their slides.
Listen to Julie explain the slides:
Emily presented a series of “asks”:
- sign a petition thanking Sen. Boscola for co-sponsoring legislation limiting cyber-charter schools
- sign a petition for limiting the activity of the Charter School Appeal Board (until funding is equitable, stop the CAB activity (you can sign that petition here)
- contact your legislator (contact info on the BASD Proud Parents web site)
- sign up on the BASD Proud Parents web site to continue to receive relevant information
- send BASD Proud Parents success stories of public school education
Interesting: Julie was careful to say “no aspersions” on the three charter schools located in Bethlehem.
It’s becoming clearer and clearer to Gadfly that for us here in Bethlehem the problem is not so much poor quality charter schools but the funding system and the solution for that is with the legislature.
Parting words: “We have to educate ourselves, so that we can empower our children.”
Gadfly has an appointment with Dr. Roy tomorrow and is especially interested in what we know about why those 13% of our students are going to charter schools, and especially why so many are choosing Lehigh Valley Academy. Do we have surveys? Data? Interviews?