DeLissio frustrated in charter bill vote
HARRISBURG, April 28 – State Rep. Pamela DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., expressed disappointment with a House vote to approve a less than comprehensive reform bill to update the 20-year-old charter school law.
DeLissio opposed House Bill 97, which passed Tuesday by a vote of 108 to 84 and has been forwarded to the Senate for consideration. The bill mandates the addition of three board members to the current seven-person Charter School Appeal Board, and it will also create a Charter School Funding Advisory Commission to explore funding issues related to charter school entities and make recommendations to the General Assembly and the governor. The bill also creates a standard student-enrollment application.
“The legislation does not adequately address flaws in the law that require school districts to pay cyber charter schools far more than the actual cost of educating students, and it doesn’t hold charter schools to the same standards of accountability and transparency as traditional public schools,” DeLissio said. “Additionally, it will create a system for evaluating students, teachers and administrators at charters that would be less rigorous than the system used in traditional public schools, making it challenging to compare strengths in relation to opportunities and outcomes between charters and traditional schools.
“Charter school law needs reform, but H.B. 97 fails to provide the direction and opportunity for charter schools to provide quality education in a transparent way that allows the authorizing school districts to hold them accountable. Local school districts need the ability to strategically control charter-school growth as a means to increase options for all students and improve educational outcomes.
“We need to treat our public schools, charter or traditional, equally so that we can ensure all of our students are able to succeed. Furthermore, the law also doesn't fix provisions that allow charters to exclude most students with serious disabilities, leaving it up to the regular public schools to provide for their needs.
“This bill falls short of providing the reforms we need to correct our charter school law, and I hope that my colleagues in the Senate see that and either make the additional necessary corrections or vote the bill down,” DeLissio said.