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With Millions Owed by Charters to Philly Schools, ACTION United Calls on Mayor Nutter to Audit Philly Charter Operators

29 August 2013

With Millions Owed by Charters to Philly Schools, ACTION United Calls on Mayor Nutter to Audit Philly Charter Operators

PHILADELPHIA—ACTION United Executive Director Craig Robbins responds to today’s City Paper report on Aspira Inc. The report found that, as of last June, Aspira owed four publicly financed schools $3.3 million. It also underscored what teacher and parent groups have been questioning for years: a lack of oversight of Philadelphia’s charter schools.

“At a time when Philadelphia schools are being sapped of resources, when 24 schools have been shuttered, and when nearly 4,000 teachers and school support staff have been laid off, it is unacceptable that at least $3.3 million—and perhaps millions more—is owed to our schools by nonprofit organizations running charter schools. The School Reform Commission has shrugged off its oversight responsibility, despite the fact that charters constitute 30 percent of the SRC budget. The SRC also voted to renew the charters of two Aspira-managed schools in May, even though Aspira had hefty unaccounted debit card expenses and had to borrow millions from the charter schools.

“It is enough to make you question who stands to profit from this $3.3 million. Aspira? The Philadelphia School Partnership, which has been a cheerleader for Aspira, despite its financial management problems? Other so-called education reformers?

“The SRC has taken no serious steps to ensure charter school accountability. Its failure to be a good steward of tax dollars is reflected in the 18 federal investigations into area charter schools since 2008.

“Certainly, Philadelphia’s children aren’t benefiting from this lack of accountability. Over the past few days, in between below-the-belt jabs at teachers who are standing on the side of parents and students, Mayor Nutter has boasted about all he has done for Philadelphia public schools. Well, here is one thing he missed. Today, ACTION United is calling upon Mayor Nutter to push the School Reform Commission—two of the five members are his appointees—to do a full audit of Philadelphia charter school operators. We are confident that the $3.3 million that Aspira owes is only the beginning of the story.”


22 May 2012
Parents and community members will weigh in on how to save public education in Philly; lay out alternate vision for reform

WHEN: Tuesday May 22, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE:Bright Hope Baptist Church

12th and Cecil B. Moore

Who: ACTION United members, Parents, teachers, students, community members, SEIU, Fight for Philly,


Upset over a proposal to gut Philadelphia Public Schools the ACTION United will hold an emergency community meeting on Tuesday to provide information to the community and lay out an alternative vision.


“Officials have laid out their plan, and folks are unhappy, but we really haven’t heard a lot about an alternate vision” explained    Roland Ferguson, concerned parent and member of the Southwest Chapter of ACTION United.  “That’s what we are going to do on Tuesday.  People not only want to hear about the proposed changes, they want to make sure the needs of their children and their neighborhoods are being considered in the process. We’re going to lay out an alternative to the plan that includes the priorities of the community, parents and students”

The Pastor of the Bright Hope Baptist Church Dr. Kevin R. Johnson, a parent with children in the Philadelphia Public Schools, will kick off the meeting.  Students will capture their vision for what the term “good school” means in drawings and writings and parents and community members will be asked to write their priorities and concerns on tablets on the wall.  These pictures and papers will be delivered to the School Reform Commission during the protest the following morning.  


“We reject the notion that there is no money for schools when they are building new prisons”
 added Ferguson.  “We need our officials to be listening to the community and looking for creative solutions rather than trying to solve the funding crisis on the backs of students or by outsourcing jobs. The people that work in the schools are parents and neighbors too.”


ACTION United’s members will suggested real, community oriented solutions based on research and proven models

“We feel any proposal should both include community priorities but also be research based and rely on proven methods of reform so we can be sure this isn’t just another ‘expert’ solution that will throw our children into chaos without actually solving anything.”

Action United For the common good