Schweyer supports governor’s call to hold charter schools accountable

HARRISBURG, Aug. 13 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, offered the following remarks at today’s news conference hosted by Gov. Tom Wolf as he announced plans to reform charter schools in Pennsylvania by addressing accountability, cost, transparency, fairness and quality.

“I'm very proud to say that my two daughters are successful Allentown School District students. My oldest daughter Sarah will be starting 7th grade at South Mountain Middle School and my youngest Erin is going into 3rd grade at Lehigh Parkway Elementary School.

“Now, there were many reasons why we chose to send our kids to Allentown schools: a neighborhood feel, a diverse student body that reflects modern America and mostly a strong comfort level with the quality of the education.

“We also knew that if we had a concern, there was recourse. Not only could we talk to the teacher and the principal, if we had a real problem about the direction of the district, we could address it with the school board.

“When a potential charter school is applying to a district, it must demonstrate community support, financial solvency and an explanation about their academic innovation. But once a charter school is established, there is very limited oversight. Once established, it is hard to know if a charter school is using taxpayer money appropriately. It is hard to know if they are following the academic program its leadership laid out during the approval process or even if the students are learning at all.

“Parents in Allentown have a perception of every charter school. People think some are good and they think some are poor. Folks may be right or wrong, but people should have the necessary information before they choose to enroll their child or continue to enroll their child in a charter school. Lastly the taxpayers deserve to know that their tax dollars are being used appropriately; that those dollars are being used to educate students.

“Governor Wolf’s executive actions are most welcome. With his leadership and with some honest dialogue in Harrisburg, perhaps we can make long lasting changes that will benefit students, school districts and taxpayers,” Schweyer said.