June 19, 2008
Statement on the June 18 EMO decision
Parents United for Public Education supports the School Reform Commission's decision yesterday to take the first steps to establish accountability for Education Management Organization (EMOs). Although we had hoped that more schools would be returned to District control, we believe the SRC's decision sends an important message that private contracts will be held to a minimum standard of achievement.
We especially praise the District for defining what additional
Six years ago a promise was made to the people of Philadelphia that
Throughout much of our testimony over the past several years, we have
Now is the time for the District and SRC to leave behind the politicized vestiges of the state takeover and chart a course which emphasizes a quality choice system, not a multiple choice system. As we move forward, we ask that the District continues to refine, expand and invest in strategies that make schools work rather than adhere to any particular management model or company.
Together, we can reclaim that promise made years ago. We look forward to partnering with the District on this effort.
July 24, 2007
Why we care about EMOs
In 2001, Governor Tom Ridge orchestrated a state takeover of the Philadelphia public schools. At a cost of $2.1 million, Gov. Ridge first hired Edison Schools, Inc., the nation’s largest for-profit manager of public schools, to make recommendations on how to improve Philadelphia schools. Edison recommended that the entire Philadelphia school district be turned over to their company, a recommendation fully endorsed by Gov. Ridge and the leadership of Harrisburg. For the next ten months, citizens, students, district employees and union members formed a powerful alliance and launched a citywide campaign against Edison Schools and the privatization of public education. In the end, the School Reform Commission compromised with a “diverse provider model,” a mix of managers that included for-profit, non-profit and university, as well as private management.
The SRC has been steadfast in its support of the “diverse provider model” even though four separate and independent studies have shown that EMOs do not substantively outperform district-managed schools. Only one study, which was partially paid for by Edison Schools, showed that EMOs had succeeded in outperforming district schools.
A study by RAND/RFA found that the most successful model of achievement were schools under management by the Office of Restructured Schools. This office invested district resources in a “test set” of struggling schools with similar demographics and achievement levels as EMO schools. Schools under the Office of Restructured Schools not only outperformed EMO schools, but also the average district- managed school. The SRC disbanded the Office of Restructured Schools in 2006.
EMO contracts lasted five years. This spring, a number of Harrisburg legislators launched a campaign to ensure the full renewal of the EMOs, despite the academic studies. At the same time, parents and education advocates decried the spending on EMOs especially at a time of severe financial distress. On May 31, 2007, after months of public protest and ignoring District recommendations and an alternative plan suggested by another commissioner, the SRC voted to renew all the EMO-managed schools for one year at a cost of $12 million.
Parents United statement on EMOs
As the district faces yet another year of $100-plus million deficits, we cannot afford to throw money at a failed political experiment. The School Reform Commission must use every penny to the advantage of students in the classroom. More important, to rebuild the trust of parents and community, the SRC must take a strong stand that it believes in data and achievement-oriented results, not political pressure.
Parents United remains concerned that the SRC continues to value EMOs above academic studies, public transparency, accountability and fiscal management in a time of budget crisis, concern for vulnerable sectors of children, and most important, academic achievement in some of the longest-suffering schools and communities in our city. We are appalled at the crass and blatant intrusion of politicians, Wall Street, and EMO executives to influence what should be an academic decision.
Statement on elimination of transpasses (6/24/08)
Statement on GCA requirements (1/15/08)
Statement on vote of No Confidence (5/29/07)