The Chester-Upland school district teeters once again towards bankruptcy. Half of of its students are enrolled in charter schools, and the public school district is in deep deficit. The Corbett administration refused to supply the funding needed to survive, abandoning the state’s constitutional obligation to maintain public schools. Former Governor Corbett, a proponent of privatization, appointed an emergency manager who was known as a supporter of charters and vouchers. He recommended merging the administration of public schools and charters, but the charters declined to join.

 

“The Chester-Upland School District faces a $20 million structural deficit, which Watkins attributes to costs incurred by student exodus to charter schools and the state government’s decision in 2011 to eliminate money in the budget to help districts cover the cost of departure.

 

“Almost half of the more than 7,000 students in the area attend charter schools.

 

“Watkins has floated several unorthodox fixes for the chronically underperforming and overextended school district, including talk of a partnership and an flux of more than $1 billion from a Chinese investor…

 

“Watkins unpacked his plan to partner with the charters -– which included recategorizing charter students as Chester-Upland School District students — at a hearing in December.

 

“By recategorizing charter students and making them Chester Upland students, we wouldn’t have been obligated to pay their tuition costs,” said Watkins. He said the district currently pays $9,000 to $35,000 in tuition per student, in addition to absorbing departure costs.”

 

The biggest charter in the district is the Chester Community Charter School, which is owned by a wealthy lawyer who was one of Corbett’s major campaign contributors and a member of his education transition team. When the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about him, he sued the newspaper (he lost in the appellate court). His readiness to sue stills critics; he even threatened to sue a website run by an 18-year-old that featured his fabulous homes. His for-profit company has made tens of millions by supplying goods and services to his nonprofit charter school.

 

The charter owner recently built a $28 million mansion in Palm Beach. That’s American education, folks.

 

NOTE: I WAS INFORMED THAT THE CHESTER-UPLAND SCHOOLS ARE IN DELAWARE COUNTY, NOT CHESTER COUNTY AND I CHANGED THE HEADLINE ACCORDINGLY. FORGIVE THIS TEXAN LIVING IN NEW YORK FOR HER GEOGRAPHICAL IGNORANCE OF COUNTIES IN PENNSYLVANIA.