PA has one of the largest populations of students attending charter schools in the nation. Enrollment in charter schools has increased from 67,725 students in the 2007-08 school year to 132,860 in 2015-16. Public charter schools serve a higher percentage of African-American and Hispanic students than traditional public schools. 43% of students enrolled in charter schools across the state are African-American, compared to 13% in traditional public schools.
Yet we are not a leader in best practices because our Charter School Law has gone untouched for 20 years. PA’s Auditor General received statewide coverage when he declared PA’s charter law “simply the worst” in the nation after conducting several high profile school districts and charter schools.
Pennsylvania is ready and in desperate need of charter reform, to protect the many outstanding charter schools successfully serving students and intervene in the schools that are struggling.
Charter Reform Legislation - HB97
HB97 is a comprehensive charter reform bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Reese and reflects years of compromise and negotiation with all of the major education stakeholders. Over time, all of the controversial provisions have been stripped away (e.g. independent authorizers, direct pay) so all that remains are commonsense policies that meet the needs of both charter schools and traditional public schools. While this bill does not capture all that is necessary to create the conditions for high-quality charters to grow, it is an essential first-step towards modernizing Pennsylvania’s outdated charter law, which Auditor General DePasquale has called “the worst in the nation.”
In a bipartisan effort, HB97 was passed by the PA House by a vote of 108-84 on Tuesday, April 25.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. Stay tuned for updates!
Have You Heard?
What PennCAN is saying…
Press Release: PennCAN applauds the House for the passage of meaningful charter reform (4/25/17)
Blog: Unfair Treatment: The hypocrisy of the latest attack on the charter bill – by Jonathan Cetel (4/19/17)
Press Release: PennCAN issues letter of support for HB97 (4/17/17)
Blog: The time for charter reform is now – by Jonathan Cetel (10/24/16)
What the media is saying…
Pennlive/Patriot-News: House takes first step towards modernizing Pa.’s outdated charter law (4/25/17)
The Philadelphia Public School Notebook: Charter reform law voted out of House committee, more revisions likely – (4/18/17)
The Philadelphia Tribune: State lawmakers suspend charter school law reform – (7/16/16)
Newsworks: Pa. budget deal with education funding boost hinged on compromise, avoiding controversy – (7/14/16)
Newsworks: Debate over Pa. charter schools gets swirled into larger state budget talks – (7/13/16)