charter schools

From the creation of Pennsylvania’s charter school law in 1997 to today there has been greater public school choice in the state, and many charter schools are doing a good job. That’s one of the positives noted in PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s audit of charter schools.

But DePasquale said there are still many challenges in the charter school system. His audit recommends increased accountability, transparency and effectiveness of charter schools and includes a recommendation to create an independent statewide charter school oversight board.

How can charter schools better help Pennsylvania students succeed? That is the question Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is asking.

At an information gathering session in Ross Township, DePasquale said they want to strengthen the accountability and transparency of the charter school system.

“Our goal in the hearings over the next three weeks is to provide really the best practices and also good points to the Pennsylvania General Assembly so they can take that, incorporate that, in updating and improving the Pennsylvania Charter School Law,” DePasquale said.

How are Pennsylvania school districts spending your tax money?

SchoolWATCH, a bill aimed at answering that question, was approved by the House of Representatives Monday.

It would direct the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to create a website displaying the revenues and expenditures of traditional public, charter and cyber school districts in the commonwealth.

The legislation’s author, Representative Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), said they want to create an “easy-to-use” database.

A Pittsburgh-area state lawmaker wants charter and cyber charter schools to be regulated as strictly as public schools.

Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) introduced a package of legislation that aims to address issues with charter and cyber charter schools’ accountability, teacher certification and the need for high quality pre-kindergarten.

If passed, Brewster’s legislation would halt the State Charter School Appeal Board and the Department of Education from approving a new charter or cyber charter school.

Some education advocates are criticizing a state Senate proposal to revamp how public charter schools start, expand and receive funding because it would remove a check on the growth of the alternative schools.

A plan before a key legislative committee would allow charter schools to increase their enrollment without the approval of the school district that first authorized their charter.

David Lapp is a former charter school teacher and now a staff attorney with the Education Law Center.

Tammy Terwelp / 90.5 WESA

“Where’s the moral outrage over the lack of equity in education,” asked Duquesne University Dean of Education Olga Welch who attended a recent community forum on the achievement gap held by 90.5 WESA.

“Where is it,” replied forum panel member Jeremy Resnick, a founder of Propel Charter Schools, “it’s missing.”

Dozens of parents, teachers and administrators crowded the Community Broadcast Center recently for a public forum as part of WESA’s Life of Learning initiative.

Open Records Chief Calls Charter Schools Scofflaws

May 17, 2013

The head of the state's Office of Open Records is pointing a finger at public charter schools for being the "cancer" of the state's Right-to-Know law.

The testimony comes as lawmakers are in the midst of an effort to tweak the state's five-year-old law, which lets citizens request government records starting with the presumption that all such documents are public, putting the burden of proof on agencies, not citizens.

Charter school groups are giving bad grades to legislative proposals that would reduce what they receive in funding from their local school districts.

One of the more tense exchanges in a recent state House committee hearing on proposals that would mean less funding for charter and cyber charter schools came during a back and forth on the quality of the education provided at the publicly-funded, privately-run schools.

As state lawmakers consider proposed changes to funding cyber charter schools, larger problems with how public education is funded are drawing attention. 

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