PCPCS on the move: July 2010 – June 2011 successes.
June 15, 2011
The leaders of the charter school movement in Pennsylvania identified the need for a single new statewide organization with a clear, unambiguous mission and a more effective governance structure. By early summer, they had developed a new strategic plan, merged two organizations into one, re-written the By-Laws, and defined a streamlined and more diverse leadership structure. The new Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) came into existence in July of 2010.
The following summarizes what PCPCS has accomplished since then and identifies some of the issues and actions it will focus on in the near-term future.Governance: – Hired a full time executive director and two staff people – in education and communications.
- Significantly strengthened and broadened the financial base with new and potential multiple year grants from the Heinz Endowments, Walton Foundation, and William Penn Foundation.
- Helped to successfully override former Governor Rendell’s veto of HB 101 which, if left to stand, would have permitted real estate tax assessments on public charter schools. First override of a Governor’s veto in Pennsylvania in 17 years. – Polled membership on desired legislative priorities and worked effectively to get them into Senate Bill 904 and House Bill 1348.
- Helped to ensure that five pro-charter members served on Governor Corbett’s Education Transition Team.
- Partnered with PA Families for Public Cyber Schools and the Black Alliance for Educational Options to bring more than 2,000 parents, teachers, and students to Harrisburg to meet with legislators and rally to support pro-charter legislation. – Continues to effectively advocate in the Senate, House, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and Governor’s office for passage of S 904 and HB 1348 and other pro-charter actions.
- Actively and successfully supported the Walter Palmer School in legal action against the School District of Philadelphia on the issue of caps.
- Joined PA Cyber School in the successful legal challenge to the Slippery Rock School District refusal to transfer funds for four year old students enrolled in PA Cyber kindergarten.
- Filed an Amicus Curiae brief to support the Collegium Charter School in their successful contention that they are a public school and, as such, construction of their building was exempt from prevailing wage law.
- Continues to monitor and selectively support legal actions that involve issues that threaten charter schools throughout the state.
Quality and Accountability:
- Investigating work done by the National Alliance of Charter Schools and charter organizations in Texas, Colorado, Michigan, and California to define a fair, equitable, and comprehensive approach to quality and accountability for charter schools. Objective is to share, potentially in partnership with PDE, national best practices with Pennsylvania charters.
- Investigating the details and potential of the proposed Philadelphia Great Schools Compact for statewide applicability. – Working with Drexel University to investigate the most effective methodology for best practices identification and sharing. – Revising and updating the 2009 Code of Accountability for charter schools in Pennsylvania.
- Organized and hosted a statewide conference for charter school board members and administrators. – Initiated and continues to organize monthly charter CEO meetings in Philadelphia to keep charter leadership on top of issues that will impact their schools. Plan to test similar sessions in other sections of Pennsylvania.
- Conducted special regional member briefings on legislative and legal issues in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.
- Sponsored a meeting for all charter school CEOs with the Secretary of Education and senior staff of the Pennsylvania Department of Education which resulted in the PDE agreeing to expedite the redirection of funds to charter schools.
- Consulted with more than 40 current and potential charter schools on operational enhancements and start up assistance.
- Established cooperative purchasing agreements for charter schools with Staples and Microsoft.
- Planning to reinstate the annual conference for charter board members, CEOs, school leadership, and teachers in the fall of 2012.
- Communications: – Acts as the primary statewide public voice on behalf of the charter school movement with the media, the Governor’s Office, members of the Legislature, in Congressional hearings, and with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. – Initiated a weekly electronic newsletter to keep all charters apprised of current and upcoming media reports and events.
- Created “email blasts” to inform charter school leaders of immediate and high priority issues and actions.
- Updated, enhanced, and expanded the website to make it more useful and easier to navigate.- Established a continual and growing social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.