PCPCS STATEMENT CONCERNING REP. ROEBUCK’S STUDY ON CHARTER SCHOOLS
March 19, 2013
PCPCS issued the following response to State Rep. James Roebuck’s report on charter and cyber charter schools that was clearly drafted in the interests of maintaining the status quo and destroying real choice for parents.
Representative Roebuck acknowledges that the study focuses on only a very few charter schools and very specific situations. Furthermore, the report revives outdated, and long resolved, matters; ignores the historical mismanagement of funds, and lack of oversight in districts; and convicts people before any finding of fact. It appears to be a report that has selectively chosen situations and facts that support a preconceived conclusion aligned with a political agenda, rather than serving as a balanced analysis of an important situation.
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools has always stood for choice, quality, and accountability in all public education. Some charter schools have acted outside of legal and ethical parameters, and those schools should, have been, and are, being closed. But this report highlights those bad performers and extrapolates similar behavior to every charter school in the state. Last week alone, there were three reports of child pornography or sexual misconduct with minors in Pennsylvania school districts. To jump to the conclusion that such behavior is normal in every district, or tolerated in any district is a gross exaggeration. But that is exactly what the Roebuck study does to charter schools. Moreover, Representative Roebuck wants the districts, which have oversight responsibility for every brick and mortar charter school, and were complicit in every violation he mentions; to now have more control with no more oversight.
The report also ignores the outstanding work being done by the vast majority of charters throughout the state. In Philadelphia, 13 percent of the traditional schools, and 30 percent of the charter schools are making Average Yearly Progress and the charter schools are doing it for 20 percent less than the taxpayers are paying to the District. More than 50,000 Philadelphia parents have already moved their children to charter schools and another 44,000 are on waiting lists to get into a charter school. Today, there are 5,700 parents waiting to see if their child is one of only 30 fortunate children who will win a lottery seat at the MaST Charter School in Philadelphia.
The fact that parents who want safer and better learning environments for their children have to endure this process throughout the state is a tragic condemnation of what we adults have created, and what Representative Roebuck’s study argues should be retained. The demand by parents for a charter education option is strong testimony to the overall quality of charter schools and the hope they are providing to parents. But you won’t find these facts in Representative Roebuck’s report.
Let’s be honest, this study and Representative Roebuck’s proposed legislation are aimed not at saving taxpayer dollars or even improving education for our children. They are simply clever instruments to maintain the status quo and destroy real choice for parents.