Archives for category: Pennsylvania

The Central York school board banned a long list of books and videos about race, racism, and diversity. Days ago, responding to protests by students, parents, and teachers, the board voted unanimously to lift the ban.

This censorship is in keeping with the current effort by Republicans to label teaching about racism to be teaching “critical race theory” that makes white students feel guilty and uncomfortable.

A Pennsylvania school district that had banned a list of anti-racism books and educational resources by or about people of color — including children’s titles about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. — reversed its nearly year-long decision this week after backlash and protests from students, parents and educators in the community.

The Central York School District had implemented “a freeze” last fall on a lengthy list of books and educational resources that focused almost entirely on titles related to people of color. The school district claimed the books on race and social justice, which some in the southern Pennsylvania community hoped would help bolster the educational curriculum following George Floyd’s murder and the racial-justice protests of 2020, were frozen, not banned, after some parents raised concerns about the materials.

The school board announced Monday it had voted unanimously to reinstate access to the books, district spokeswoman Julie Randall Romig confirmed to The Washington Post.

Jane Johnson, president of the school board, said in a statement that the review of the anti-racist materials had “taken far too long.” The all-White school board had taken months to vet books and materials such as children’s titles on Parks and King, education activist Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography, the Oscar-nominated PBS documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” about writer James Baldwin and CNN’s “Sesame Street” town hall on racism.

Johnson previously noted that some parents in the district “believe that rather than uniting on diversity, certain resources polarize and divide on diversity and are based on disputed theories and facts…”

Students at Central York High School had denounced and protested the ban, saying their “thoughts are being invalidated.” Students organized demonstrations over consecutive days this month in response to the district’s inaction toward reversing the ban…

In November, the school board “unanimously approved a decision to freeze the use of these resources” pending a review, Johnson said.
A Twitter account named Central York Banned Book Club compiled a lengthy list of every book and resource that had been prohibited by the district. “The copy is tiny because the list is massive,” the account tweeted Sunday. @cybannedbooks

Lisa Haver, parent activist in Philadelphia, was thrilled when the state relinquished control of the school board in 2018. Now Philadelphia has mayoral control of its schools. Haver soon discovered that the appointed school board is not interested in parent engagement and shuts parent voices down.

She wrote in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Just weeks into the new school year, Philadelphia school communities find themselves already dealing with chaos. Parents, students, and school staff, many navigating toxic flood waters after a devastating storm, were not notified of the district’s decision to open schools late until two hours after the first bell.

Students at several district schools had to avoid mountains of trash left in schoolyardson their first day back.

The district has revised bell schedules and school calendars with a stunning disregard for the needs of parents.

In June, when the Inquirer Editorial Board asked City Councilmembers what their priorities would be for their 2021-22 session, education was barely mentioned — not even by the Chair of Council’s Education Committee.

Another recent editorial lamented the erosion of trust between Councilmembers’ constituents and city institutions including those between the school community and the Board of Education that “have been exacerbated during the pandemic which Council could ameliorate by finding ways to navigate and, hopefully, reduce.”

But that doesn’t seem to be a concern for councilmembers. Some have joined protests at schools where teachers refused to enter toxic buildings. But other than one letter signed by a handful of councilmembers sent last February, Council has been largely silent on the silencing of their constituents by the board.

Haver points out that neither Superintendent William Hite nor his staff was held accountable for the fiasco at Benjamin Franklin High School, when two schools merged. Construction costs soared from $10 million to over $50 million. Students and staff were forced to endure an unsafe learning environment while construction proceeded. Accountability for multiple failures? None.

Nor did anyone on the board respond when the district’s principals endorsed a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Hite for his lack of leadership during the pandemic.

Mayoral control enables the silencing of parent voices.

Peter Greene describes the shocked reaction of charter operators when Governor Tom Wolf proposed that they be regularly audited and that their payments should be aligned with 5heir services. Pennsylvania has a funding formula that is heavily tilted to favor the charter industry. Their lobbyists want to keep it that way.

In his 2020 budget speech, Wolf tried to soothe the industry and thread the needle, saying that Pennsylvania students should get a great education “whether in a traditional public school or a charter school” an noting that “Pennsylvania has a history of school choice, which I support.” But he also said that some charter schools are “little more than fronts for private management companies, and the only innovations they’re coming up with involve finding new ways to take money out of the pockets of property taxpayers.”

The 2021 budget has several features to tighten up Pennsylvania’s exceptionally loose charter industry. 

Pennsylvania’s 14 cyber charters will be audited. “Wait,” you say. “the cyber charters aren’t audited?” The answer is “barely;” six of the charters have never been audited at all, and the largest cyber charter in the state, Commonwealth Charter Academy, was last audited in 2012. 

The proposal also targets cyber charter funding, one of the deeply nonsensical features of the Pennsylvania charter landscape. Cybers get 100% of the same payment as a brick and mortar charter school–even though they have no bricks, no mortar, and none of the other expenses of an actual school building. Consequently, cyber schools in PA are making money hand over fist, and taxpayer dollars go to things like advertising ($1,000 per student recruited at one charter) and, no kidding, a cool robot dog. The governor proposes to set a statewide cyber tuition rate that is still mighty generous. The state’s in-house online education program costs about $5,400 per student per year, and the governor proposes a set $9,500 tuition rate.

The proposal also looks to fix the charter reimbursement rate for special ed. Currently, a charter gets the same high payment rate for all special ed students, whether they need a full-time aid and extensive specialized supports, or they just need a few adaptations in a regular classroom. That has made students with special needs into cash cows in PA. This is extra nuts because PAS actually has a tiered system for rating special needs–it just isn’t used when paying charters. The governor’s proposal is that charters should be paid an amount in line with the actual costs of educating the students.

The governor also proposes more oversight and accountability for the Education Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit, Pennsylvania’s two tax credit scholarship (aka voucher) programs.

Wolf also plans to address Pennsylvania’s funding inequities, among the very worst in the nation, with a nearly $2 billion increase in school spending. So charters get less, and public schools get more (including getting to keep more of the public tax dollars they used to have to hand over to charters).

None of this is a hit with the school choice crowd. It’s a little nuts, really, because the governor’s proposal boils down to “Pay the charters what it actually costs to educate the students instead of paying them what it costs to educate the students PLUS a big fat taxpayer-funded bonus.” It’s an exceptionally not-very-radical proposal.

But the pushback is already coming, because GOP leaders in the House and Senate are already prepped and ready to join the national push for more choiciness

I recently received a letter from a teacher in Chester-Upland, Pennsylvania. I have written about this district many times, as a large charter company owned by a Philadelphia lawyer is draining it of resources and students for his low-performing charter school. The district is like a lamb led to slaughter, with rapacious wolves ready to gobble it up. See here and here and here and here. See Carol Burris on the takeover of the district here. See Peter Greene on the evisceration of the Chester-Upland schools here (also posted on the blog here).

In case you think that Chester Community Charter School is “helping save poor students from failing public schools,” consider that only 7% of the charter’s students were proficient in math, compared to a state average of 45%, and only 17% of its students were proficient in reading/language arts, compared to a state average of 63%.

Why would state and county officials permit a failing for-profit charter school to take over an entire public school district? Is it because the district is overwhelmingly low-income and black and no one cares?

The teacher asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

He wrote:

My name is XXXXXXXXXX, and I’m a teacher in the Chester Upland School District, which is located in Chester, Pa. Chester is a predominately black, low income, high crime area. We have had 3 students murdered this year, and several others shot. Even though it is a dangerous area, I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else because I love the kids, and I want them to succeed. But our leaders are greedy, and our district is going to be sold off to charter schools if we don’t receive some sort of help.

Here is an overview of what has been taking place:

The city and school district are in a financial crisis. Because of the financial situation, the owner of a for-profit charter school in Chester asked a judge to give his charter, Chester Community Charter, permission to take over all of the elementary schools in the district. Here is the article:   

The judge denied the request, but this past spring the Republican judge approved outside management for all grades in the district. Here is the article:

It seems that the entire district is going to be run by one or several different charter schools which would dissolve all public schools in the city. Besides New Orleans, this is almost unheard of in our country.

A few months ago, the district hired a new superintendent with a checkered past. She was recently fired from her position in New Haven, Conn., which you can read about here:

It seems that it is quite a coincidence that Dr. Birks is also a supporter of charter schools. She also became one of the highest paid superintendents in the state which is surprising considering her history and the financial state of the district.

Our school board is being paid by charter schools; there doesn’t seem to be any other explanation. One school board member put out a flyer last December, recruiting community members to come to the courthouse to support the charter schools. Those community members that agreed to show up were provided dinner afterwards, and had their names put into a raffle to receive free TV’s and other devices. It’s hard to see this as anything other than a conflict of interest. 

On January 14th, 2021 RFP’s (Request for Proposals) will be held for charter schools to show why they should take over schools in the district. Unfortunately the review board for the RFs is filled with charter school supporters. The community hasn’t had any input about this process. Here are the board members:

Anthony Johnson the board president, receiver Dr. Juan BaughnFred Green (who is a board member that rarely attend meetings, and charter advocate for CCCS), Lamont Popley (during the board meeting on December 17th, Baughn said Mr. Lamont Popley was a member of the review board, he’s the principal at Toby Farms. His staff members asked him about this and he said this was the first he heard about being on the review board. He said he hadn’t spoken to Baughn since the spring), 2 other board members, plus Leroy Nunery (former consultant for the school district of Philadelphia’s charter school office), and Jack Pund (he sits on the board of several charter schools, including Agora.)

This would not happen in a white school district. This is racially motivated. This poor community is being taken advantage of, and being sold to the highest bidder, and no one cares. If this community wasn’t poor, and black, people would be outraged with what is going on. But no one is helping. We need help.  

Thank you.

Carol Burris writes in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog about a for-profit charter corporation that about to take over the entire Chester-Upland school district in Pennsylvania. This district is one of the poorest in the state.

Burris writes:

Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) first opened its doors in 1998, just a few years after the school district found itself in financial distress. Vahan Gureghian, a Pennsylvania lawyer who runs a billboard company and is one of the state’s top Republican donors, owns CSMI, the for-profit management company that helped open Chester Community Charter School.

Although the charter school began small, it now educates about half of the district’s students. Despite its growth, its academic record is dismal.
CCCS students perform worse on standardized tests than students at several of the Chester Upland public schools. “This is the charter whose test scores have been below those of several district-run schools, ever since it was cited for cheating on said test scores,” said Chester resident Will Richan, “[cheating] not by one or two rogue teachers but across three grade levels.”

Maura McInerney, legal director of the nonprofit Education Law Center (ELC) said she is concerned that students may be forced into attending lower-performing schools.
“Publicly available data discloses that children served by Chester Community Charter School exhibit lower achievement scores compared with most [Chester Upland] District schools in all categories of PSSA [Pennsylvania System of School Assessment] testing in math, English language arts, and science. The 2019 profile score for CCCS (40.7 percent) is significantly lower than that of other district schools,” such as Stetser (66.5 percent); Main Street (55.5 percent), and Chester Upland School of the Arts (56.4 percent).”

And yet, despite its poor academic record, in 2017 Peter R. Barsz, the receiver appointed by Dozor who oversaw the financially distressed district, renewed Chester Community Charter School for an additional five years just one year into its new renewal term. In doing so, he gave the charter school a nine-year pass no matter how poorly its students might do.

The Philadelphia Inquirer referred to the move as “unprecedented,” noting that Barsz’s reappointment to a third-term by Dozor was made over the objections of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Barsz was then replaced by the same Republican judge in the middle of his term (because, the Inquirer reported, Barsz wanted to expand his accounting firm). The latest in a string of receivers is the recently retired superintendent of the Chester Uplands District, Juan Baughn.

Profiting from charter schools

To understand why Chester Community Charter School and its for-profit parent company, CSMI, are so interested in taking over the beleaguered schools, one needs to understand how lucrative being a charter management organization (CMO) can be in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where there are no limits placed on what the CMO can charge.

In 2014-15, state data showed that CCCS had the highest administration expenses of any charter school in Pennsylvania. With total expenditures just shy of $56.6 million, over $26.1 million, or 46 percent, was spent on administration, while $18.8 million, or 33 percent of total expenditures went toward instruction.

This is not only true for CSMI’s Pennsylvania charter school, however. With the help of federal Charter School Program dollars, Vehan Gureghian extended his reach into neighboring New Jersey, again setting up shop in poor, financially stressed predominantly black districts — one in Camden New Jersey (since closed) and another in Atlantic City. The administrative costs of these CSMI charters were among the highest in that state.

The fiscal crisis of Chester Upland’s public schools

It would be difficult to find a more underfunded district with more challenges than the Chester Upland School District, which has been in financial trouble for years. In 2012, its teachers agreed to work without pay, although in the end, the state intervened, allowing them to be paid.

A few years later, however, a crisis returned when the state legislature could not agree on a state budget, thus delaying state school payments to public schools. The 2015-16 school year began with teachers coming to work without knowing when or if they would receive a salary.

It would also be hard to find a district that serves a more disadvantaged student population. According to the district’s recovery plan, every student in the district (100 percent) is eligible for free lunch, 89 percent of the students are black, and 4 percent are Hispanic. Twenty-two percent are students with disabilities.

Financial mismanagement is partly to blame for the district’s fiscal woes — with inadequate revenue, there were years when the district spent more than it took in. However, the drain of district funds to charter schools, especially CCCS, has put the district on a death spiral.

The Bethlehem School District analyzed the proportion of operating expense funds that flow to districts. Number 1 in the state was Chester Upland, with almost 47 percent of funds leaving the district for charter school tuition. You can find the results of that analysis here. This compares with about 30.5 percent of the budget of Philadelphia public schools, 11.5 percent of Bethlehem’s funds, and an average rate across the state of 3.7 percent.

At first glance, it might appear as though 47 percent is a savings given that 60 percent of the district’s elementary students attend Chester Community Charter School. However, it is important to keep in mind that the education of elementary students is far less expensive than that of high school students who need laboratory sciences, specialized courses, guidance counselors, and extracurricular activities such as sports. Chester Community Charter Schools is only interested in educating the district’s K-8 students.

There are, too, differences in which students the charter school educate.

According to McInerney, who is representing parents opposed to the charter takeover, CCCS has a track record of poorly serving students with the most significant disabilities. In an email correspondence. she noted that “during the 2017-18 school year, while 11 percent of students with disabilities at Chester Upland School District were students with autism, the percentage of students with autism at CCCS was only 4.3 percent.”

In addition, CCCS was cited for noncompliance by the Bureau of Special Education in 2016,” she wrote. “These citations related to core requirements for educating students with disabilities, including (1) the failure of IEPs to be reasonably calculated to enable a child to advance appropriately towards annual goals and (2) failure to educate children in the least restrictive environment.”

The special education funding formula for charter schools in the state incentivizes charters to take the least disabled students
because the school receives the same amount for every special education student, regardless of the severity of the disability.

The pattern of charter schools having fewer students with more severe disabilities is found across the state according to a June 2020 report by Education Voters of Pennsylvania, which used Chester Upland as an example of how wide those disparities are.

At the same time, the law does not require that all special ed funds be spent on the student; therefore, extra dollars can be spent any way the charter schools decide to support its program.

Can this distressed, underfunded district survive?
One would think the Chester Upland School Board, although it has little authority in receivership, would nevertheless advocate for the independence of the school.

That assumption would not be correct. School board president Anthony Johnson has stated that he wasn’t troubled by the for-profit status of the Chester Community Charter School’ management company and that he was open to charter expansion.

The recent appointment of Carol Birks as superintendent also signals the board’s interest in allowing charter expansion and governing control of the public schools. Birks made it clear that she believes parents have the right to choose between charter and public schools and that she has “no preference.” (Birks’ contract was bought out by the New Haven Board of Education for $175,000 after a year and a half in the position of superintendent. The small, cash-strapped Upland District negotiated a salary of $215,000 a year, placing her among highest paid superintendents in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.)

Despite all of the challenges, maintaining a public school system in the district has its advocates. Last December, the Education Law Center, along with the Public Interest Law Center, intervened in the case both on behalf of Parents of Chester Upland School District as well as the Delaware County Advocacy & Resource Organization to challenge the CCCS petition to include charter school conversions to become part of the district’s recovery plan.
A proffer of witness testimony outlined by the law center at hearings included testimony from parents who want their children to attend the district schools which they describe as more accountable, as well as providing better services to their children, particularly those with disabilities.

The story of Chester Upland is a cautionary tale of what occurs when public schools are financially abandoned, and charters are allowed to swoop in, placing such an enormous financial strain on the schools that a disastrous downward spiral begins.

McInerney summed it up this way: “Chester Upland School District is a stark example of the high cost of inadequate and inequitable school funding and the disproportionate impact of underfunding on students of color. It needs significant investments and support from the state to effectively serve the significant number of students living in deep poverty who have been harmed by entrenched underfunding and horrific deprivation of basic school resources. Instead, conversion to charter control is being pursued as an ‘out’ when we should focus our attention on creating a sustainable path to local control.“

Peter Greene describes in this post how charter schools in Pennsylvania manage to game the system by making money from students with disabilities even while excluding many of them.

He writes:

In a new report, Education Voters of Pennsylvania looks at “how an outdated law wastes public money, encourages gaming the system, and limits school choice.” Fixing the Flaws looks at how Pennsylvania’s two separate funding systems have made students with special needs a tool for charter gaming of the system, even as some of them are shut out of the system entirely.
The two-headed system looks like this. Public schools receive special education funding based on the actual costs of services, while charter schools are funded with a one-size-fits-all system that pays the same amount for all students with special needs, no matter what those special needs might be….

Public schools receive state funding based on student tiers; charters get the same funding whether the student needs an hour of speech therapy a week or a separate classroom, teacher and aide.

This creates an obvious financial incentive for charter schools to cherry pick students who are considered special needs, but who need no costly adaptations or staffing to meet those needs, while at the same time incentivizing charters to avoid the more costly high needs students. Denial of those students does not require outright rejection of the students; charters can simply say, “You are welcome to enroll, but we do not provide any of the specialized programs that you want for your child.” Parents will simply walk away.

Examples of this technique are not hard to find in the state. Before they closed down in 2018, the Wonderland Charter School in State Collegel was caught over-identifying students with speech and language impairment, a low-cost Tier 1 need, by 1,000%….

Across the state, the report finds roughly 10% of public school enrollment is students with special needs; for charters, the percentage across the state is about half that.
The result is that taxpayers, through their local districts, are overpaying charters for the services provided. If a student with a language impairment moves to a charter, the funding doesn’t just follow her—it increases by thousands of dollars. A student who cost the taxpayers $15,000 to educate in a public school now costs taxpayers $27,000, though no more money is being actually spent on that student’s education.

The problem could easily be fixed, and Peter explains how.

Over 600 faculty and staff at Penn have organized Penn for PILOTS and issued a statement calling on the university to make “payments in lieu of taxes” (PILOTs) to the Philadelphia public schools. As is well known, the public schools in Philadelphia are chronically underfunded, thanks to a hostile Republican legislature, and they are currently facing devastating cuts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn is the largest property owner in Philadelphia and the only Ivy League university that doesn’t pay PILOTs. Calls for PILOTs have surfaced for years, but support for the idea has now reached an unprecedented level. A significant number of Penn faculty and staff believe that it is time for the university to pay its fair share for public schools.

As the organizing statement of the group says, Penn is the seventh wealthiest university in the nation, and the Philadelphia schools are among the poorest in the nation.

This is the petition of the organizers. The statement begins:

We are faculty and staff at the University of Pennsylvania who believe that Penn has a responsibility to ensure adequate funding for the Philadelphia public schools. Penn is the largest property owner in the city of Philadelphia, but as a non-profit institution, it pays no property taxes on its non-commercial properties. In other words, it contributes nothing to the tax base that funds Philadelphia’s public school system—this in a city whose schools are underfunded and facing deep budget cuts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Commitment

Penn should contribute to an Educational Equity Fund governed by the school district and city of Philadelphia. These would be payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs)—a fraction of what Penn would owe if it were subject to property tax assessment. We commit ourselves to seeing our university pay its fair share.

Nearly every other Ivy League university already makes payments in lieu of taxes. Penn would be joining the ranks of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, and Dartmouth in recognizing its financial obligation to the community of which it is a part.

The supporters of this demand explain their rationale:

This is not a matter of charity but of justice. Penn’s tax exemption is predicated on the notion that it is a non-profit institution that exists to fulfill a public purpose, not a for-profit corporation that exists to accumulate capital. That distinction must be made meaningful. Today, Penn is the seventh richest university in the country. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has the highest poverty rate of the ten largest cities in the United States. If Penn’s public mission is to have any meaning at all, the university must not be an exemplar or engine of urban inequality.

Yet the existing system of public finance ensures that Penn benefits from city services that it does not pay to maintain. Penn’s administrators, faculty, and staff rely on city schools, sanitation services, transportation, and other programs. Penn’s location in the city of Philadelphia is one of its defining characteristics that enables the university to attract faculty and students. When the university does not pay for the services and environment that make its work possible, other Philadelphians are left to make up the difference—or city schools and other institutions simply go without. Penn has a duty to contribute to the city that sustains it.

Here is their list of frequently asked questions.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about this remarkable movement.

I salute the faculty and staff at Penn who support this movement. The financial condition of the Philadelphia public schools is dire. They need all the help they can get. In this age on intense individualism and greed, it is wonderful to see people acting with a sense of social responsibility.

Charters in the Philadelphia area received more than $30 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds, while public schools in Philadelphia continue to be systematically underfunded. The big winner in the PPP sweepstakes is the for-profit Chester Community Charter School, owned by a major Republican donor and billionaire.

One of the largest loans, between $5 million and $10 million, went to Chester Community Charter School (CCCS), which is operated by a for-profit management company owned by wealthy Republican donor Vahan Gureghian.

The loan was received by Archway Charter School of Chester, Inc., which is the nonprofit name for CCCS under which it files its 990 tax form.

The CCCS charter already received more than $2.5 million from the CARES Act, intended for public schools. So CCCS, which aims for a complete takeover and privatization of its district, is funded both as a “public school” and a small business.

The most recent 990 form on file for Archway and available in Guidestar, which is for 2017, reports that almost all its more than $66 million in revenue comes from “government grants.” Gureghian has resisted releasing any information about his management company’s profits, but the 990 reports $18 million in management costs.

Chester Community is among those pursuing a court case that could privatize the management of all the schools in Chester. Charters already educate most of the K-8 students in the district.

This is a powerful editorial written by the editorial board of the York Dispatch.

The Republican-controlled legislature has imposed a funding system that is literally forcing the school district to starve in order to survive.

It is an outrage.

This should be a cover story in every national magazine. It isn’t, because it’s all too common.

When we starve our schools, we destroy the education of the children who attend them.

The editorial says:

York City School District is trapped in a death spiral.

It’s stuck under years-long state management that limits how money can be spent. Charter schools are annually sucking more than $25 million from its budget. Miserly state lawmakers foist the responsibility for funding public education on local officials, thereby fostering a system that rewards students in rich communities and punishes those in poor ones. And York City taxpayers are fed up with paying taxes that are up to double what’s paid in richer districts with more valuable property.

It’s no wonder that, under these conditions, York City Superintendent Andrea Berry presented a slash-and-burn budget for the 2020-21 school year containing $6.2 million in cuts. And, sadly, it’s no surprise the district’s school board went even further, last week approving a budget that axed 44 positions, including 32 teachers.

And, even so, York City’s 2020-21 budget still boosted taxes. That’s how bad things really are.

Really, what choice did district officials have?

York City school officials are trapped in a budgetary spiral that’s plagued poor, largely minority communities throughout the U.S. for decades. Under-represented at the statehouse, their calls for funding reform fall flat.

Like anything stuck in a trap, eventually the grisly choice of gnawing off one’s leg is the last, best available option.

Easily available metrics, such as test scores, drive the moneyed classes from the city, exacerbating blight and crashing property values.

The poverty increases the demand for not-for-profits, which, in turn, remove more property from the tax rolls.

And, all the while, Republicans in the state Legislature tout the myth of “school choice,” a particularly insidious bit of libertarian conservative dogma — concocted in response to the integration of Southern schools — that conspires to privatize the American school system and funnel taxpayer dollars to religious institutions.

The results will be devastating for York City’s students and society at large.

Interested in the performing arts? Too bad.

Hoping to grow from an introduction in the humanities? Those options are even more limited now.

Programs such as these are, in a very real sense, the foundation of a well-rounded education, one that prepares students to take their place as active citizens in a representative republic. But, more often than not, society has decided that the liberal arts aren’t for poor kids.

Make no mistake, York City’s plight is one destroying urban districts throughout the country. Just ask Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher, who, in 2016, wrote a blistering ruling that attacked the very foundation of the system under which public schools are funded in this country.

His 90-page ruling was an indictment of the disparity between rich districts and poor ones that the U.S. funding model breeds.

“So change must come. The state has to accept that the schools are its blessing and its burden, and if it cannot be wise, it must at least be sensible,” Moukawsher wrote.

And yet, with the inherent systemic flaws well-established, school districts such as York City remain trapped and must eat itself just to survive.

Officials there had little choice this past week.

But the fact that they were left without any other options is neither moral nor just.

Thanks to Peter Greene for sharing this blistering but accurate editorial.

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools [sic] announced that its executive director had stepped down.

This followed the controversy that erupted after she wrote on her Facebook page that the protests over George Floyd’s brutal killing disgusted her, then removed the post. Too late.