ASPIRA of PA Schools:

Why We Became a CMO:

After operating as a Community-Based Organization for nearly 40 years, ASPIRA of PA became a Charter Management Organization (CMO) in 2008 to work for quality education for students and meet parental demands for higher academic expectations in its neighborhood. As a CMO, ASPIRA of PA is in charge of staffing, managing, and overseeing five different charter schools. ASPIRA of PA has founded two traditional charter schools (Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter and Antonia Pantoja Charter), taken over two turnaround schools from the School District of Philadelphia (John B. Stetson Charter and Olney Charter), and founded ASPIRA Bilingual Cyber Charter School — the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.

What is a Charter School?

Technically, a charter school is “a publicly funded independent school established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority.” Charter schools are independent public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more inventive than traditional public schools, while still being held accountable for improved student outcomes. Charter schools typically operate on less funding than traditional district schools, are held accountable to the same annual state academic proficiency expectations as all public schools, and are evaluated every 5 years on overall performance and operations.

Philadelphia Charter School Statistics:

1. Charter schools are out-performing district schools: Of the top 40 performing high schools in Philadelphia, 15 were charter schools and only 4 were neighborhood district schools. 2. College-going rates of charter schools are higher than most district schools: Neighborhood district schools have a 25% college admission rate, while charter schools have a 48% rate. 3. Enrollment trends from 2001-2011: Enrollment in district operated schools fell by 23%, while enrollment in charter schools grew by an astounding 242%.

Why are Charter Schools Necessary?

Most states across the nation have recognized the critical need for more effective approaches to improving student achievement in our public schools. Charter schools have the flexibility to try inventive and creative ways of improving learning. They give parents more options within the public school system, increasing their voice on educational quality expectations. Charter schools are closing the achievement gap and are raising the bar of what is possible and should be expected in public education. This is naturally increasing pressure on public school districts to achieve higher levels of educational excellence, which is a win-win for all students.