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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 3, 2020 11:01 AM
From: Representative Joe Ciresi
To: All House members
Subject: Fixing Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law to protect kids and taxpayers
In 1997 Google and Netflix didn’t exist, but Woolworth’s still did. The world has changed a lot since then, but one thing hasn’t: PA’s antique charter school law.

If we’re going to treat ALL schools fairly – and put kids and families first – we need a law built for 2020 and beyond. We need them to be partners with our public schools, not competitors for dollars taken from long-suffering homeowners.

We need to be tough on the schools failing our kids when it comes to academics, ethics, and cost. We need to reward solid performers who are innovating while still delivering on our obligations.

We can make our current system better, and there’s a plan to do that. You’ll know more, you’ll see better results, and you’ll know your money is being invested to build a future our kids deserve.

The Charter School Reform Act of 2020 includes:

Protecting Your Right to Know
  • Requires charter school trustees and administrators to live by the same financial and ethical reporting standards public school board members and school district officials live up to;
  • Requires charter school meetings to follow the Sunshine Act;
  • Requires any company running a charter school to open up their records so the people can see if they’re educating kids properly or just cashing in.

Protecting Your Property Tax Dollars

  • Requires a statewide, data-driven cyber charter school tuition rate to make sure all taxpayers are getting the same results for the same dollars and ending the wide disparity in rates affecting tuition in neighboring districts;
  • Requires charter schools to use the Special Education Fair Funding Formula public schools use to ensure students in need are getting the results they deserve and preventing huge tax rate increases on homeowners in districts serving rapidly growing populations of students with special needs;
  • Requires charter schools to use actual accounting and enrollment in calculating tuition – backed up by PA Department of Education – to make sure payments are fair, consistent, and promises are kept;
  • Requires charter schools to carry enough insurance to take care of kids and families if the charter closes or the parent company goes out of business.
Protecting the Future of Our Kids

  • Creates a standard state framework for charter school applications so potential school operators know just what is required to deliver success;
  • Standardizes the method to change charter schools’ missions and goals to reward innovation and best practices, and ensure school districts have the tools needed to evaluate changes to charters;
  • Creates a state grading system for charters to allow high-performing schools even more self-determination while focusing attention on low-performing schools to better serve the kids;
  • Stops the creation of new cyber charter schools until the existing schools improve performance – right three out of every four charter schools rank in the bottom five percent of schools statewide – and charges DoE with creating enrollment and performance standards of the worst performers.
It’s a big job, but our kids, their parents, and our taxpayers are counting on us. It’s time for a change for the better. Please sign onto this bill and let’s get to work on passing a new, modern charter school law.

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