Houston, TX – October 9, 2023 – A report released last week from the Philadelphia School District (PSD) claimed it found no bias against its Black-led charter schools. Despite this finding, the Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools (FCCS) underscored that the report did find several authorizing issues including but not limited to a lack of district transparency, inherent conflicts of interest involving board members and school leaders, and disproportionate closure of Black-led charter schools. Furthermore, FCCS is deeply troubled by the continuation of evaluating and closing Black-led schools, even as the investigation was ongoing.
“Concluding there was no evidence of ‘intentional’ racial bias does not absolve the district of its responsibility to change its authorizing practices to be more transparent and equitable,” said FCCS Executive Director Janel “Jay” Artis-Wright. “It is clear that the Philadelphia School District has more work to do to ensure fairness in its oversight of all charter schools. The fact that this report took two years to release and was made public on a holiday weekend with minimal notice to stakeholders involved, further raises concerns about PSD’s commitment to respect and transparency in its relationships with Black-led charter schools.”
The district’s insistence on focusing on process rather than issues of charter school quality and equity resulted in an authorizing environment where student outcomes took a back seat. Schools that were serving students well were closed alongside schools that were not as a result of an opaque, process-driven system. Improvements to the authorizing environment are critical to ensuring that schools that successfully serve Black students remain options for families
FCCS calls on PSD to take immediate action to address the authorizing issues raised in the report to ensure that current and future authorizing processes and decisions are fair, transparent, and equitable for all charter schools, regardless of their racial or ethnic composition.
Over the last year, FCCS joined local coalition partners at the African American Charter School Coalition (AACSC) in the fight for PSD accountability and the release of the investigation results, testifying at council hearings and elevating the issue nationally.
As advocates for educational choice and excellence, FCCS remains committed to educational equity, fostering an environment where all students have equal access to a great education, and where charter schools play a vital role in achieving this goal. We will continue to closely monitor developments in Philadelphia and engage with all parties to ensure that the needs of students and families are met.
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