Reposting from Education Voters of Pennsylvania:
It has been 20 years since the law that established charter schools in PA was enacted. Significant flaws in this charter school law have surfaced over the past two decades and legislators are now making what appears to be a serious effort to improve it.
On Tuesday, April 18th, the House Education Committee will begin fast-tracking HB 97, comprehensive charter school reform legislation. Unfortunately, HB 97 is a tremendous disappointment.
Call your state lawmakers now. Tell them that HB 97 is NOT charter reform that was worth the 20-year wait.
HB 97 increases transparency and holds charter schools to similar standards as other publicly funded entities. These are important nd necessary changes to the law. Unfortunately, however, these changes aren’t enough to make HB 97 a bill lawmakers should support in its current form.
Lawmakers must substantially change HB 97 in order to address critical funding and academic performance issues, ensure that charters will serve all students equitably, and ensure that communities are able to plan and exercise appropriate fiscal and academic oversight over their public education system(s).
Call your state legislators to urge them to work toward charter school reform that will address all of the significant problems in the current charter law and improve PA’s system of public education for all students.
HB 97 fails to address critical funding problems with the current law.
HB 97 does not address cyber charter school quality. Over the course of nearly two decades and after receiving billions of taxpayer dollars, cyber schools have consistently demonstrated they are incapable of meeting minimal academic performance standards set for public schools in PA.
HB 97 creates separate performance standards for charter schools and district schools, allowing charter schools to play by different rules than district schools. This is unacceptable. Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that must be held to the same academic performance standards as district schools. Creating separate performance standards for charters prevents parents and taxpayers from knowing if charters are performing better or worst than their district schools.
HB 97 allows for different evaluation systems for charter and district school teachers, creating a system where charter and district teachers are held to different standards of accountability.
HB 97 allows charters and cyber charters that fail to meet academic quality benchmarks to be renewed for five years by a school board or the Charter Appeal Board, significantly reducing local control and accountability for academic quality. The longer the term of a charter, the longer it takes for true accountability for charter school performance.
HB 97 fails to ensure that charters will equitably serve all students and does not address student “push out” in charters.
HB 97 fails to ensure charters will equitably serve the most vulnerable students in their communities, including those who are experiencing homelessness, living in foster care, and returning from juvenile justice placement.