Harrisburg — This morning, the General Assembly sent Governor Wolf the final components of the 2019-20 budget, including the School Code bill (HB 1615) and several other education-related bills that were passed over the past few days. The following is a statement from Ana Meyers, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS), on the budget package and the exclusion of charter reform in the final agreement.
“Year after year, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools advocates for the inclusion of meaningful reforms to Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law (which has not been updated in over 20 years) in state budget agreements. Each year, despite our best efforts, commonsense changes to our state’s charter laws are thwarted by elected officials playing partisan politics or powerful special interest groups threatened by the success and popularity of charter schools.
I believe this year we were the closest we have ever been to seeing real charter reform get approved by the General Assembly, in the form of House Bills 355, 356, 357 and 358. After months of working on compromises with the prime sponsors of the bills, the Wolf Administration and organizations representing traditional public schools, the House passed these four bills with support from both sides of the isle and they were poised to be included in this year’s School Code bill.
Unfortunately, partisan politics took precedence once again over the best interests of Pennsylvania’s students and the four charter reform bills, along with Sen. Browne’s proposal for a Charter School Funding Advisory Commission (which we support), were removed from the list of policy initiatives headed for the School Code bill.
Though we are disappointed, we are also encouraged by the progress that was made in the past few months to move these charter reforms forward, and we will continue to work with members of the House and Senate get a meaningful package of charter reform bills on the Governor’s desk by the end of the year.”
About the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS)
PCPCS is the leading voice of charter schools in the state of Pennsylvania – representing both brick-and-mortar and cyber schools throughout the Keystone State. We are dedicated to choice, quality, and accountability in public education. We advocate for legislation and policies that support those objectives and provide assistance to charter schools, with the aspiration of making every charter school in Pennsylvania a high performing public school. More than 90,000 children are enrolled in 167 charter schools throughout the Commonwealth and more than 40,000 are on waiting lists.
For more information on PCPCS or charters schools, visit www.pacharters.org.