Community groups, activists, parents, and students with the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools will protest House GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s visit to the Freire Charter School on Monday. Cantor is set to deliver a major policy speech on “school choice.”
Eric Cantor and the House GOP are hardly friends to education and working people in this country. In 2013, more than a half a billion dollars in federal funds will be cut from urban school districts like Philadelphia as a result of the budget sequestration. The House of Representatives, under Eric Cantor’s direction, just voted to slash food stamp funding by $40 billion. Millions of people across the country would lose a vital source of food, including 140,000 Pennsylvanians, meaning more kids would come to school hungry. The House has also voted to defund Obamacare, setting up a budget showdown that could lead to a government shutdown.
Now Cantor is supporting a GOP school “choice” bill that would defund public education in Philadelphia and across the country by redirecting money to unproven charter schools.
According to School Reform Commission member Joseph A. Dworetzky, the Philadelphia school district loses roughly $7,000 per year for each student who attends a charter school. Numerous charter schools in Philadelphia have faced accusations of fraud and financial mismanagement. According to a March report by the PA Democratic House Education Committee, as many as 24 Philadelphia charter schools have been under investigation in recent years. In announcing a new FBI tip line in 2012, the head of the FBI’s Philadelphia division “cited the explosion of charter schools in recent years as an area that has become ripe for wrongdoing and scrutiny.”As the City Paper recently reported,Aspira Inc. of Pennsylvania owes $3.3 million to four Philadelphia charter schools it runs.
Funneling more money to unproven charter schools and away from public education is no solution to urban school woes. Schools need more money, period. Taking money from them is part of the larger GOP agenda of austerity and slashes to crucial social programs.