A response to “State Charter, Public Schools Not Always Bound to Same Rules”
August 17, 2012
The following is a letter from Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools Executive Director, Robert Fayfich, in response to the article “State Charter, Public Schools Not Always Bound to Same Rules” that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette on Sunday, August 12, 2012.
I need to correct a few inaccuracies and misleading statements in Eleanor Chute’s recent article on charter schools.
First, charter schools were excluded from teacher evaluation requirements recently passed by the legislature because the section of the school code addressed in that legislation does not cover charter schools. There is a proposal to include teacher evaluations for charter schools in legislation that will be considered next month. We support that legislation. Moreover, many charter schools are well ahead of traditional public schools and have had very stringent teacher evaluation processes in place for years.
Second, the article incorrectly states that the charter community advocates for the state to be the sole authorizer for charter schools and that such a proposal is in pending legislation. Both statements are false. What we do advocate for, and what is in the proposed legislation, is the option of a state authorizer, in addition to the school districts, and for the development of tough, fair, and high quality authorizers at the state level and in every authorizing district.
Third, the article correctly states that last year the Pittsburgh School District paid $13,047 to charter schools for each regular student attending a charter school, but fails to mention that is only 52 percent of what taxpayers paid to the District to educate that child. The District retained the rest, and transferred the responsibility for educating the students to the charter schools. Those advocating for a level playing field for the districts never mention this inequity.
Charter schools are exempt from some of the administrative burdens placed on traditional public schools so that they can have the flexibility to innovate, move more quickly to adopt more effective teaching methods, and keep the best teachers, regardless of seniority. But charter schools are, and always have been, accountable to the same academic, ethical, and legal requirements of any other K-12 public school in the state.
Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools