Philly Charter School Had 9,190 Applicants for 96 Spots

MaST Charter

MaST Charter School (via Google Street View)

By all accounts, MaST Community Charter School is a success.

The Philadelphia school opened in 1999, and eventually consolidated all its grades into an old steel factory on Byberry Road in the Far Northeast. The “MaST” in the school’s name stands for Math, Science and Technology, and it has been recognized as an excellent school on numerous occasions.

The school serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and even opened up a second school in September on Rising Sun Avenue in the old St. William’s school building in Lawncrest.

As such, people want to send their kids to MaST. And so there were almost 9,200 applications for the 2017–18 school year. MaST has room for just 96 kids. Read more »

Social Media Threat Closed Tacony Academy Charter School in Wissinoming Today

tacony-charter-940x540

UPDATE: Tacony Academy Charter School in Wissinoming is open today, according to a message from the school’s CEO and principal. “We are putting additional security measures in place and opening tomorrow for education. As some investigations take time, we will allow law enforcement to do their due diligence” Ashley Redfearn wrote on the school’s website. “With police presence and security on campus, we will have a productive educational day.”

UPDATE: In a new message on its web site, Tacony Academy Charter School’s CEO and principal Ashley Redfearn said the school is continuing to work with police regarding the social media threat that canceled school today. “We have not made a decision yet about school tomorrow. Please check by 7 p.m. for an update,” the statement advises.

ORIGINAL: The Tacony Academy Charter School, a high school in Philadelphia’s Wissinoming neighborhood, made the decision to close this morning after officials there were notified of a picture of guns on social media.

Read more »

PA Goes Easy on Charter Schools, But So Do Most States

School District of Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco

This year, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission has moved to close four charter schools for poor academic performance. That’s unusual, and controversial. Locally and across the state, charter schools are rarely closed, even when they are poor academic performers year after year.

That sort of lenience with charters is, it seems, not at all uncommon in the rest of the country.

A new study from the Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative found that the rules governing the creation, operation and closure of charter schools in Pennsylvania are not too different from those of other states. Read more »

Former String Theory Charter Schools Superintendent Sues for Discrimination

Photo by Gregory Bezanis, courtesy South Philly Review

Photo by Gregory Bezanis, courtesy South Philly Review

In 2012, the readers of the South Philly Review chose Gail Avicolli from the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School (PPACS) as the “Best Principal in South Philly” in the newspaper’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards. Three years later, after a short stint as the superintendent of the school’s corporate parent, String Theory Schools, the beloved 69-year-old administrator has filed a lawsuit against the schools, alleging that she was discriminated against and harassed. Read more »

Op-Ed: Philly’s Charter School System is Falling Apart

Philadelphia School District Building

Photo by Jeff Fusco

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from City Council candidate Helen Gym.)

“As long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance.”

Those were the infamous words of Citigroup Chief Executive Charles Prince, explaining why, amid the collapse of the world markets, his institution would keep on making risky subprime loans right up to the last minute.

They are words that toll with heavy familiarity as the School District of Philadelphia stubbornly pursues reckless charter school expansion while our public schools crumble.

Last week, Superintendent William Hite announced a sweeping plan for the school district that includes closing two public schools and converting three other city schools into charters.

Never mind that just a few weeks ago Hite declared for a second time that charters in Philadelphia had reached a “saturation point.” Never mind that money that is never available to restore basic services like nurses and counselors — or to end class sizes of 70 students per teacher — can somehow be found to expand charters year after year. And never mind that the charter system itself is rapidly coming apart, with mid-year closures, bankruptcies and bad financing deals rocking an already uneven academic performance landscape.
Read more »

How to Find the Best Philadelphia School for Your Child

Photography by Christopher Leaman

Photography by Christopher Leaman

The move to the ’burbs used to be almost automatic for Philadelphians with means — families of all races picked up and left the city when their kids were old enough for school, and they did it without much handwringing.

But something’s changed. Philadelphia parents aren’t so eager to quit on a city that’s bigger, better and more vibrant than it’s been in decades. And they’re not at all convinced that what’s best for the kids is a big backyard and often homogenous classrooms. For them, picking a school is about much more than standardized test scores; it’s about finding a place that fits their family’s expectations, values and lifestyle. Read more »

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