PCE's work is primarily focused on shared issues. Photo credit: Klaus Vedfelt/Gettyimages.

Charter schools face difficulties with the Philadelphia School Board

Philadelphia Charters for Excellence (PCE)’s CEO Scott Peterman talks about the efforts the organization is doing to help students and families.


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In March, a Philadelphia Charters for Excellence (PCE) advocacy campaign — a coalition of charter schools, parents and education leaders — submitted in the Philadelphia Board of Education’s public meeting a petition with over 2,000 supporters. They are requesting that the city’s Mayor Jim Kenney and the Board stop the unfair treatment —  including the Board’s inequitable and arbitrary renewal policies— of Philadelphia’s 83 charter schools.

PCE, which is non-profit that works on behalf of Philadelphia charter schools communities, works based on public transparency and collaborative communication to try to solve the issues that are affecting all the public school students every day in the city. It aims to provide stability and predictability to public school families in Philadelphia that are looking for different options for their children's education. 

“The School Board unfortunately, for reasons that they don’t share publicly, have not been predictable, transparent, collaborative or communicative around charter schools issues,” Scott Peterman, PCE’s CEO said. 

According to Peterman, the Board’s practices governing charter renewals are unfair and discriminatory. It affects the lives of the 65,000 students that the charters serve in the city — who are mainly from Black and brown communities. Peterman said that schools that serve these minority groups are being closed at a disproportionately higher rate, giving parents no options when deciding for their children’s education. 

“Charters are held to a higher standard than District-run schools, often without explanation or justification, resulting in the closure of charters that are higher-performing than similarly situated District schools,” he added. 

Confused, anxious and frustrated; families are constantly in doubt about what may be happening to the school community. There is no clarity around the rules on the benchmarks about what Board is looking for renewal recommendations, Peterman said. 

He was excited to see families and education advocates work together in the coalition. Parents get energized because they want to have efficiency over their kids' school journey and educational experience, but repeatedly aren’t given that opportunity of true choice — as there are thousands of students waitlisted in the charter schools sector, for example. 

PCE wants this to be a permanent effort: sustainable city-wise groups of parents organized groups that are interconnected but independent who share resources and move together. 

Regarding school leaders and educators, Peterman highlights the passion and dedication of these communities who are used to doing more with less. He is now hoping that the board will start engaging with them, which is the only thing the coalition has been asking since June of last year. 

“We are not calling for anything outrageous,” he added. “It really is about the School Board coming to the table and working together with charter school leaders, elected officials, and private and public stakeholders to find sustainable solutions.” 



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