Families are holding school districts accountable by leaving for better options

Harrisburg, Pa. (March 9, 2020)The following is a statement from Ana Meyers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, in response to school districts supporting Gov. Tom Wolf’s efforts to strip funding from public charter school families and restoring an educational monopoly for districts.

“Gov. Tom Wolf continues to misinform the public with messaging prepared by school district leaders on a hunt to stifle competition and monopolize families’ educational rights in Pennsylvania.

Families are fleeing school districts for public charter schools, and the governor has chosen to further undervalue those students by proposing to cut more of their funding, rather than holding the school districts and their special interest groups accountable for financial mismanagement and addressing the reasons families are choosing to leave their assigned districts.

I challenge the governor to stop listening to special interest groups and for once ask charter school families why they left their district schools. Maybe then we will begin to have a conversation about accountability for all.

Charter schools are the pipeline to an education that is working for more than 143,000 students in Pennsylvania. These students are being used as scapegoats by fiscally irresponsible school districts that won’t curb their expenditures and instead subject their constituents to higher property taxes — all while the reserve funds of school districts soared to $4.6 billion in 2018.

Yet the governor wants to pad his political allies’ pockets with even more taxpayer dollars by slashing $280 million from charter school students and giving it to school districts. This arbitrary cut is in addition to the 25 percent that each district already skims off the top of every charter student’s funding allotment. It is clear that Wolf’s intentions are not to bring equity and accountability to PA’s public education system — if this were his goal, he would have joined the House in supporting its charter reform package that passed last year — but to punish families for making an educational choice that threatens his political allies.

Families are holding school districts accountable by leaving for better options and the governor refuses to investigate why.

It’s time for the governor, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and school district leaders to stop treating charter school students as second-class citizens and become more concerned about why families are seeking their education elsewhere.”

If you are interested in speaking with a charter school parent in your region, please contact Jess Hickernell:  j.hickernell@pacharters.org.