Pittsburgh Tribune: Charter schools should be viewed as public education allies

April 24, 2012

The following letter from the Executive Director of the PCPCS was published in the Pittsburgh Tribune on April 24, 2012:

I find the initiatives and perceptions of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the district representatives quoted in Eleanor Chute’s article (“School Boards Group Offers Aid to Charters,” April 16) ironic, misinformed and unfortunate for the children of Pennsylvania.

Ironic in that the PSBA is offering to provide assistance to brick and mortar charters while actively and aggressively advocating in Harrisburg against their existence and providing school boards throughout the state with model resolutions opposing charter schools to be sent to their respective legislators.

Misinformed because the district leader quoted defines charter schools as a different type of public school, not subject to the same rules as school districts and operating with non-elected boards. By legislative definition, charters are intentionally not burdened by some of the mandates placed on traditional public schools but they are held to the same academic standards and can be closed much more easily than traditional public schools.

If an elected board was included in the definition of a public school, then neither the Pennsylvania Board of Education nor the School District of Philadelphia, serving more than 200,000 students as the largest district in the state, would be considered public.

Most importantly, unfortunate because there is an attitude reflected in the administrators’ perceptions that limit educational opportunities for children. Charter schools are simply a different model of public education providing choice to parents and students. They are not an “attack” on public education, but rather a refinement.

School districts and administrators who view their job as defending everything about the existing system see charters as competition. Those who view their highest priority as educating children as effectively as possible see high-quality charters as allies.

Let’s not lose sight of what our real priority should be in education.

 

Bob Fayfich

Executive Director

Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools

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