String Theory Schools (STS), a nonprofit education management organization, is trying to help Philadelphia’s education system through a $1 billion bid to repair the city’s schools and build new ones.
STS co-founder Dr. Jason Corosanite recently announced at the Mayors Forum on Education, Innovation and Technology that he has committed to the dollar amount.
“We can go as fast or as slow as the communities want, but we have the capabilities, I don’t think the limitation is on the money side,” Corosanite said. Diversewith the $1 billion amount being flexible, based on the needs and demands of school communities. “It’s really about communities wanting to build schools.”
School District of Philadelphia (SDP) Sr devices have “aging components that are past their useful life, obsolete, or no longer energy efficient,” according to the 2017 State of Device Assessment. The report also documented 11,480 deficiencies worth $4.5 billion.
STS currently operates two charter schools, the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School (K-12) and the Philadelphia Charter School for the Arts & Sciences at HR Edmunds (K-8). The schools are tuition-free and offer a wide range of programming in the arts and sciences, including vocal and instrumental music, ballet, visual arts, and technology.
The two schools — now spanning four campuses — also take a major-based approach to education that allows students to choose what their specific academic focus and focus will be, said Anthony Miller, head of climate and culture at Philadelphia Performing Arts.
“When you specialize in something, you do better overall,” Miller said. “We are one of the few schools in high school and college that offers major-based programming to students. So you can come and study anything from instrumental music to vocal music to visual arts or digital arts to robotics. We have a number of majors that students can choose from here, and they can focus on that major for four to eight years. And thanks to this model, we have seen successful results. They are more excited about being high achievers in their academic classes because they are doing something they enjoy.”
Miller also focuses on STS’ diversity efforts in terms of its student population. The STS Vine Street campus (grades 6-12) has a total enrollment of 1,379, of which 38.9% identify as Black or African American, 32.6% as White, 11.2% as Asian, and 8.3% as Hispanic.
“We want our students to go here and get a sense of how the world works,” Miller said. “And part of that means ensuring a population that looks like the world or looks like America.”
If school communities decide to take advantage of String Theory and its offering of help, then the organization will allocate resources to build new schools with a String Theory chapter or renovate existing schools to schools with String Theory programming, Corosanite said.
“What we’re proposing to any school community in Philadelphia — a registered community organization and a school group,” Corosanite said. “If they want new schools in their communities, we have the ability to build String Theory schools. … We have the ability to either build or repair or renovate schools for any community that wants to fix their K-12 system there.”
But the STS offer has yet to be accepted, Corosanite said, primarily attributing the lack of interest to “local politics” and claims that there has been a “charter school moratorium” for the past 8-10 years or so.
STS is looking to expand, Corosanite said. Now it’s just a matter of where they do so, the decision may hinge on the upcoming mayoral election in November. In Philadelphia, the mayor appoints the School Board of Philadelphia, which then has final say over charter schools, Corosanite added.
Philadelphia currently has 83 charter schools, according to the SDP website.
“My preference is [duplicate ourselves and build more schools] in Philadelphia,” Corosanite said. “Mayor elections await us. So the burden that we’re getting out now is to say, ‘Hey, the city is going to have a choice, and we think that who they elect as mayor … is going to affect change.’
Government leaders from across the United States have asked about getting STS into their districts, Corosanite said.
“We’re at a point where we’ve waited and held off on expanding the school as much as possible,” Corosanite said. “It’s kind of a last hurray, should we do it here or do it in Miami?” Shall we do it in Nashville? Shall we do it in Oakland?”