WE NEED YOUR VOICE TO PRESERVE STUDENT EQUITY

April 21, 2014

ACTION NEEDED NOW!!!

WE NEED YOUR VOICE TO PRESERVE STUDENT EQUITY.

Before the end of this month, the Pennsylvania House and Senate will likely consider legislation that may have a devastating impact on the support you will be able to provide to your special education students, undermine your ability to provide Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as required under state and federal law, and potentially cripple your financial viability as a school by reducing special education funding by as much as $9,000 per student.

After informing you of this legislation last week, PCPCS has embarked on a campaign to delay the vote on HB 2138 and SB 1316 until these devastating issues for charter schools can be addressed by legislators. We need your help in this campaign.

How to Help NOW:

  • Use social media and other forms of communication to inform and engage parents and board members on this issue. Sample messages include:

“HB 2138 and SB 1316 discriminate against special education students who attend charter schools, and will devastate our school. Click here to tell your legislator NOT to vote on legislation until it’s fair for all students” (Facebook)

 

“HB 2138/SB 1216 discriminate against special ed. students, will devastate schools. Tell legislators to vote NO: http://bit.ly/1egbWFr” (Twitter)

 

Use the following message points in your communication:

This is not a traditional vs. charter school issue.  It is about institutionalized discrimination against special education students based on the school they have chosen to attend. A special education student in a charter school will receive between 30-60 percent less than a student with the same challenges in a traditional school.

The legislation will devastate our school (use school-specific numbers) and will cause charter schools to close based, not on quality, but on lack of funding.

Inform legislators of the dramatic impact this legislation will have on your children and urge them not to vote for the legislation until, and unless, changes are made to make the implementation equitable for all special education children.

 

Suggested Changes to HB 2138 and SB 1316:

Demand that the charter school formula be applied only to new special education money, just as with the traditional schools.

Demand that the funding be consistent with state and federal law and provide equitable funding for ALL public school children regardless of the type of public school they have chosen.

More on HB 2138 and SB 1316:

Last year, the legislature passed Act 3 which was an honest attempt to bring rationality to the funding of special education children. A commission was formed to draft a report and further legislation to achieve that objective. The commission did admirable work creating a three-tiered system and multipliers for each category of special education student. But two inequities arose in the recommended implementation. First, only in the case of charter schools is the funding based on basic education funding. Second, while the implementation is to apply only to the $20 million in new special education proposed by the Governor for traditional schools, it is applied to the total $1 billion in special education funding for charter schools.

These fundamental differences lead to two serious inequities. First, the discriminatory treatment of one class of special education student based, not on their challenges, but solely on the type of public school they have chosen to attend. The same child, with exactly the same challenges, would receive more state financial support if he or she were in a traditional school than if the family had chosen a charter school. Second, the decreased funding for charters destroys the ability of charter schools to meet state and federal FAPE requirements, and in some cases to continue to exist as a financially viable school.

We have run the numbers for more than 40 charter schools in the state and in every case the impact is devastating.  Charter schools in Philadelphia stand to lose between $8,000 and $9,000 per each special education student! Both bills are identical except for the bill number. Here are the links to the content of both bills.

SB 1316

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2013&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=1316&pn=1907

HB 2138

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2013&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=2138&pn=3282

 

Bob Fayfich
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools

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