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Philadelphia Parents Say 'No' to Charter School Takeovers

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By Karla Scoon Reid. Cross posted from the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.

Efforts to convince the parents of students enrolled in an academically struggling Philadelphia K-8 school to support a charter school takeover have failed.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that in a June 5 vote, 223 parents at Luis Muñoz Marín Elementary said they wanted to continue operating as a traditional public school, while 70 voted for ASPIRA of Pennsylvania to run the school.

Muñoz Marín is a Renaissance" schools—a term that essentially means Philadelphia School District administrators want the school to be transformed into a charter. According to the story, parents at Steel School, another Renaissance school, overwhelmingly opposed Mastery Charter Schools' conversion proposal for that school last month.

The school district announced Friday that Muñoz Marín will remain a traditional public school. In a news release, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., who has already approved the Steel School vote, said: "Parents and guardians have chosen a path for their school and we are going to support their choice and quickly move forward with the very important work of improving outcomes for students at Muñoz Marín."

But the fallout from ASPIRA's attempt to transform Muñoz Marín could have a lasting effect. The Inquirer reports that an ASPIRA official filed a complaint with the district, claiming that the school's advisory council was hampering its community-outreach work.

The organization's backers also believed the teachers' union was wielding too much influence over the process. According to the story, charter opponents had concerns about ASPIRA, which is dealing with an attempt by teachers to organize a union at one of its charters. Teachers at the charter, Olney High School, have also filed unfair labor practices complaints against ASPIRA.

Meanwhile, many Muñoz Marín teachers, worried that they may not have jobs if the charter was approved, have accepted positions at other district schools for the fall.

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