This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s charter schools, which educate about one-third of the city’s student population, have a lower proportion of black teachers overall than District schools – 19 percent vs. 24 percent.
Charter schools were never subject to any court order regarding the racial composition of their faculty, and they tend to have either very high numbers or very low numbers of black teachers.
Some charter schools were founded to be Afro-Centric. Harambee and Sankofa are in that category, and their enrollments and faculties are virtually all black.
But at several charters in the city, most of the students are white and they are taught by faculty members who are all white or nearly all white.
For instance, Franklin Towne elementary charter school is 87 percent white, and all its teachers are white. At Franklin Towne’s charter high school, 72 percent of the students and 95 percent of the teachers are white.
Green Woods Charter has a 69 percent white student body and a 100 percent white faculty. At MaST Community Charter School, 69 percent of the students and 98 percent of the teachers are white. For Philadelphia Academy Charter, 80 percent of the students and 95 percent of the teachers are white.
Superintendent William Hite is concerned about the lack of black students and black teachers in some charters.
“In some charters, there is a clear segregation of staff,” Hite said, “and very few black children in those schools is disconcerting for me.”
In the School District as a whole, just over half the students are black and 14 percent are white. The District school with the highest white population is Bridesburg Elementary, at 84 percent, which is in the same neighborhood as Franklin Towne. Bridesburg’s teaching staff is 93 percent white.