Corrective Action II

Statement on Corrective Action II from the Youth Leadership Team of the

Philadelphia Student Union

Philadelphia public schools are underfunded by over 1 billion dollars. This inequity has created many schools where students are receiving an education that is hurting our future. Because school funding is largely based on property taxes, where you live determines, in large part, what kind of education you will receive. We believe that this is one of the root causes why many of our schools are ‘underperforming’. In Philadelphia right now, 70 schools are, and have been operating under violation of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law for a number a years, meaning that they haven’t made what is called “Adequate Yearly Progress” on the PSSA which is PA’s standardized test. These schools are in what is called Corrective Action 2 (CAII). We have been told that the School District proposes to address the issue by putting forward a ‘menu of options’ for what can happen to these schools. These options are connected to the options regulated by NCLB and include: privatization – which is turning over public schools to private companies that run schools for profit, turning public schools into charter schools, restructuring the schools, or some other, large-scale unspecified reform.

Studies both internal and external to the district looked at the performance of Educational Management Organizations (EMO’s), which are outside providers, both for-profit and non-profit. EMO’s are currently running 38 schools in the School District of Philadelphia, many of which are in CAII themselves. All studies (Rand/RFA and the District’s report) point to the same conclusion: there is no compelling reason based on their record of student achievement to spend the extra resources that go to these schools (between 500 and 700 extra dollars per student). We hope that the District doesn’t plan to solve the same problem they faced five years ago with a method that has been proven to be ineffective. We don’t yet know exactly what the district plans to do but we want to support them in reforms that work.

At the same time that schools were handed over to outside providers, the district created the Office of Restructured Schools. Twenty-one low-performing schools were placed under this office. These schools received additional financial resources, extra staff, school based Teacher Leaders in literacy and math, academic coaches, extra professional development, and increased parent involvement. The District-run restructured schools outperformed the schools run by outside providers and continued to show gains even after the Office of Restructured Schools was closed in 2005. We don’t know why it was closed, but we think it should be re-opened. The entire country will be looking to Philadelphia to see what happens as we try to come into compliance with No Child Left Behind. Let’s use it as an opportunity to work together to push for equalized funding across the state and to institute reforms that are proven to work, and that means keeping public schools public.

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