Staff and parents of students in the remaining public schools of the Chester-Upland district in Pennsylvania, are planning a rally to protest the charter proposal to take over all the elementary students. The district’s big charter, owned by a for-profit corporation that belongs to a wealthy lawyer, has lower scores on state tests than the public schools it wants to close.

Chester Community Charter School, owned by wealthy Republican donor Vehan Gureghian, is a low-performing charter.

The charter aims to eliminate one choice: local public schools.

If the supporters of the public schools had external funding, they could buy everyone a matching T-shirt, like charters do.

Chester Upland School District employees will hold a rally with parents and other community members next week with the hope of staving off a “charter school takeover” of all elementary schools in the district.

“They’re trying to take over pre-K through eighth grade,” said Dariah Jackson, a life skills teacher at Stetser Elementary School and vice president of the local teacher’s union. “We would just have our high school students.”

Chester Community Charter School, the largest brick-and-mortar charter school in the state with more than 4,300 students, already educates more than half of the district’s elementary school children.

The charter filed a petition earlier this month in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas asking the court to direct the district and Pennsylvania Department of Education to issue requests for proposals for charters to educate the remaining elementary school students in the district….

The charter schools – they’re sucking up our funding,” said Jackson. “They’re getting a higher percentage of school district funds. We don’t have enough money because it’s going to the charter schools. That’s one of the arguments, that financially we’re not doing well, but financially we’re not doing well because we’re giving them the money.”

Jackson added that the idea of placing all elementary school students into charters goes against the very “school choice” idea proponents of charters espouse.

They’re taking away the parents’ choice and they’re only giving them one option,” she said. “The charter school was created to give the parents an option other than a public school district. We have parents who want to send their children to the public school district, but they’re taking that option away.”

Jackson added that Chester Upland’s traditional elementary schools outperform CCCS in Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests and said that with more funding, they could do even better. She also pointed to extracurricular activities available in the public schools like football and soccer that are not offered elsewhere in the city.