Testimony to Philadelphia Board of Education on Charter School Funding

Testimony Presented to the Philadelphia Board of Education
By Priyanka Reyes-Kaura, K-12 Education Policy Director, Children First
March 28, 2024

Good Evening Board Members and Dr. Watlington:

Right now as I speak, there is $284 million of state funding on the line for Philadelphia schools. That’s because our schools are constitutionally underfunded and unable to deliver the outcomes our kids need. This is the year we must demand a change.

Children First will be taking Philadelphia parents and constituents to Harrisburg on four days this Spring to meet with lawmakers about the need to fund our schools: May 8, May 22, June 5, and June 12. We will schedule meetings with lawmakers and provide transportation. Please join us.

I’m here to talk to you about a recent report that the PA Charter Performance Center released called “Philadelphia Charter School Students Not Immune to Consequences of State Underfunding.”

This report analyzes the PSSA results from 2023. The school district received some press for their scores, but what people might not know is that charter schools had similarly low performance because neither school sector has the funds they need. Charter schools serve a higher share of Black and Hispanic students and those from low-income households, so it is imperative that they provide optimal education for these students.

I will briefly review the three main findings from the report:

  1. 84% of Philadelphia charter elementary/middle school students failed the Math PSSA’s and 66% failed the ELA PSSA’s.
  2. Philadelphia charter school failure rates for elementary/middle school students are still higher than before the pandemic.
  3. Looking at the number of charter schools in our city where the vast majority of students – at least 4 out of 5 students – failed the test, the numbers are alarming. 38 charter schools failed more than 80% of their students in math, and 15 charter schools failed more than 80% of their students in ELA.

In this room, we all know that every child is capable of succeeding. These numbers are abysmal, and it’s time we tell our lawmakers to finish the job and fund our public schools – traditional and charter.

Priyanka Reyes-Kaura
K-12 Education Policy Director