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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: April 27, 2016 02:16 PM
From: Representative Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: Pennsylvania Charter School Oversight Board
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that would amend the Charter School Law within the Public School Code of 1949 establishing the Pennsylvania Charter School Oversight Board.

When enacted, Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law was heralded as “groundbreaking” with promises of improving learning, encouraging the use of different and innovative teaching methods, and holding both traditional and charter public schools accountable for meeting measurable academic standards. Nineteen years later, Pennsylvania has over 160 charter schools with more than half operating in Philadelphia. Although some of these charter schools have flourished, the reality is that for many, the promises have not come to light and the law that assured improvements in education is outdated and riddled with problems recognized nation and statewide.

According to the 2015 annual rankings by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), our great Commonwealth ranked 31st out of 42 states and Washington D.C. for the current practices and standards in the authorizing process for charter schools. Additionally, the Center for Education Reform gave the state a grade of “C” in its annual charter law rankings. The national statistics are not surprising given that Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has issued two reports in the past two years highlighting the issues facing our traditional and charter public schools and providing recommendations to reform the charter school law, including the establishment of an independent statewide charter school oversight board.

My legislation establishes such a board to review new and denied applications submitted for new charter schools, as well as any revocation or renewal by a local board of school directors for charter schools located in a city of the first class. The board would also have the ability to review applications submitted and denials made by the State Charter School Appeal Board for new charter schools located in a city of the first class, authorize charter schools located in a city of the first class and support charter school quality and accountability through performance monitoring and technical assistance.

Education, no matter what form, is a Constitutional right in Pennsylvania. By co-sponsoring this legislation, you join me in implementing a much needed reform to our Charter School Law and continuing to provide innovative education to our children, our future. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my Harrisburg office at 717-705-1925.

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Introduced as HB2044