Philadelphia Families Rally at School District Headquarters

Group applauds PA legislature for passage of cigarette tax and encourages SRC to approve charter expansion for great schools

IMG_7820PHILADELPHIA (November 11, 2014)- Responding to both the recent passage of HB1177 (the “cigarette tax” bill) and the School Reform Commission’s decision to once again accept applications to expand or open new public charter schools, hundreds of parents and students today rallied on the steps of 440 North Broad Street to thank policymakers for giving their children an opportunity to attend a high-quality school.

Parents from several charter schools in Philadelphia celebrated how their schools have made a positive difference in the lives of their children. Toya Algarin, parent to an 11th grader at KIPP Charter School, said, “Charter schools—our schools–represent hope and opportunity for tens of thousands of families across the city. All kids in the city should be able to get the same education that richer kids do.”

Algarin also described how KIPP went above and beyond for her son after he was in a serious accident.  “Even at the hospital, when my son was being released, the KIPP staff was there to work with the team of doctors to ensure that my son was on the road to recovery. Throughout the entire ordeal my son has been focused on graduating not just from KIPP but from college. With the support and love he continues to receive from his school I am looking forward to his graduation day.”

During the rally, families thanked legislators for passage of the cigarette tax bill in September, including the provision allowing denied Philadelphia charter applicants to appeal to the state Charter Appeals Board. Families also thanked the School Reform Commission (SRC) for once again accepting applications from public charter schools to expand or open new schools and encouraged the SRC to approve applications that would expand or create new high-quality charter schools in the city.

According to school estimates, as many as 40,000 families are on wait lists hoping for admission to a high-quality charter school in the city.  Prior to this Saturday’s application deadline, the SRC had not acted on charter applications since 2009.  As the rally came to a close, parents joined with administrators from several charter schools to ceremoniously “submit” their applications for charter enrollment expansions and new schools.

Students joined with their parents for the rally and spoke of the transformative results that high-quality charter schools can bring.  “Esperanza Academy has helped me develop into an exceptional student,” said Vanessa Herrera, a current senior at Esperanza Academy Charter School. “Through rigorous academics and commitment, Esperanza has given me numerous opportunities and has prepared me for college. As a wise woman once said ‘I believe my story is very much so unwritten’ but with the dedication of Esperanza Academy, my life has just blossomed. I hope that our lawmakers continue to listen to our families who want nothing more than a great school for us.”

The rally was coordinated by the parents group Educational Opportunities for Families, which was formed to give parents a voice in the decision-making processes that affect their children.

Photo Set from the Rally

Christopher Butler
Educational Opportunities for Families

Below is a summary of news coverage from the event:

Philadelphia Daily News

Philadelphia Inquirer