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Four charter organizations apply to convert three elementary schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Dec 1, 2015 11:09 PM
Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NewsWorks

Members of the Wister Elementary School community hear a pitch from District staffers on a proposed charter conversion at an October meeting in Germantown. 

Four charter management organizations have applied to take over operations at three District elementary schools and run them as neighborhood-based charters, the School District of Philadelphia announced Tuesday.

Superintendent William Hite proposed Renaissance charter conversion for Cooke, Huey and Wister Elementary Schools on Oct 1.


The District received one letter of interest, from the Great Oaks Foundation, in response to a request for qualifications to manage Cooke, which is in Logan.

Great Oaks – which runs four schools in Newark, New Jersey; New York City; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Wilmington, Delaware – makes "high-dosage tutoring" a centerpiece of its model.

In addition to having a full-time staff, Great Oaks says it would hire AmeriCorps volunteers to act as full-time tutors, providing them housing and a small stipend.

"We're trying to offer something that will really benefit students," said Rashaun Reid, chief academic officer for Great Oaks.

Reid, a graduate of Temple University, owns a home in Philadelphia. Until last year, he was principal of Mastery Cleveland; before that, he was assistant principal of Mastery Mann. Both are existing city Renaissance schools.

Great Oaks president Michael Duffy, the former head of the charter office in New York City's Department of Education, also served as the managing director of Victory Education Partners – a for-profit operator that ran six schools in Philadelphia starting in 2002.

In the 2000s, the District handed over 45 of its low-performing schools to outside, for-profit management companies.

Although those schools received more per-pupil funding, they failed to exceed the gains made in District-run schools. By 2011, the School Reform Commission had ended all of its contracts with outside managers, including Victory.

An independent charter overseen by Victory opened in 2007 in West Philadelphia, as Southwest Leadership Academy Charter.


The only letter of intent the District received for the proposed conversion of Wister Elementary in Germantown came from Mastery Charter Schools, which has headquarters in the same neighborhood.

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Comments (50)

Submitted by Annoy (not verified) on December 2, 2015 9:12 am

Intereseting so few charter companies want to take over public schools.  Mastery is spreading its "wings" into another take-over in Germantown.  Global Ed Charter - with test scores slightly higher than Huey and run by a highly paid CEO (one K-8 school and she makes over $200,000 plus perks / benefits).  Great Oaks is Victory (for profit) trying to reclaim a school in Philly and run by a Mastery protegee.  SABIS - more for profit - has never run a neighborhood charter and picked Huey because of the building?  

This would all be comic if it wasn't so tragic.  If the SDP under Hite / SRC can't provide ALL schools with what they need to be successful - including providing high quality administrators - then why do they exist?  What is Hite and his staff doing?  

Submitted by Annoy (not verified) on December 2, 2015 10:29 am

PSP is running the District.  


.@PhilaSchoolPart to give $10.5 million in start-up grants to the five new charters approved last Feb/May.


So, I assume, Huey, Wister and Cooke can't get money as long as they are public schools. Only charters needs apply.

Submitted by Annoy (not verified) on December 2, 2015 11:48 am

Charters who have applied to expand are already receiving money from Philadelphia School so-called Partnership:


$79,000 to Folk Arts Charter School for a new, larger K-8 school;

$77,000 to Russell Byers Charter School for a 6-8 middle school;

$35,000 to Global Leadership Academy for a new high school.

Hearings on new charter applications are scheduled to begin Dec. 7, and the SRC expects to vote on them in February.

So, does this mean the decision has already been made?  Why bother having hearings when PSP has decided who gets money?  This is on top of $10.5 million for new charters approved last year. 


Meanwhile, Hite / SRC are burning down the public schools...

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on December 2, 2015 11:23 am

Great Oaks,another hedge fund dominated operation:

Submitted by Beth Patel (not verified) on December 2, 2015 3:19 pm

It should be noted that Superintendent Hite's latest list of appointees includes Christina Grant, who used to run the Great Oaks Foundation...which is now the only charter company vying for Cooke Elementary.

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