Gov. Wolf: Charter Schools Are Draining Money from Classrooms

Governor WolfCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — On Tuesday, following statements made ny state Rep. Joe Ciresi’s Capitol on charter school accountability reform, Governor Tom Wolf applauded the legislators for their commitment and repeated his call for the General Assembly to pass the fair and bipartisan plan to improve charter schools in Pennsylvania.

The governor and legislators unveiled a plan last year that protects students by holding low-performing charter schools accountable, protects taxpayers by reining in skyrocketing charter school costs and improves the public trust by increasing transparency of for-profit companies that manage some charter schools.

“I thank Rep. Ciresi and other members of the General Assembly who are working hard to fix Pennsylvania’s broken charter school law, improve education quality and accountability, and save schools and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Gov. Wolf. “Every student needs an education that prepares them for success in life, which is why charter schools should be focused on students – not profits.

“This is not about cutting funding. This is about ensuring taxpayers are not overpaying charter schools and draining money from traditional public school classrooms. We must ensure that every school, both charter and traditional, has the resources to give students the education they need.”

Uncontrolled charter school costs are causing public school district program cuts and property tax increases. Charter schools have little public oversight and no publicly elected school board, despite being funded by taxpayers.

The governor’s bipartisan proposal would make the following commonsense improvements:

  • Protect taxpayers by modernizing how Pennsylvania funds charter schools to match actual costs rather than forcing school districts to overpay.
  • Protect students by creating charter school performance standards that hold low-performing charter schools accountable.
  • Protect the public trust by requiring charter schools to have policies to prevent nepotism and conflicts of interest, so leaders do not use charter schools for their own financial benefit. Charter schools and their leaders would follow requirements of the State Ethics Commission since they are public officials.

Real school choice means quality learning. While some charter schools provide a great education, many charters, especially cyber charter schools, have poor educational outcomes. A 2019 Stanford University report found overwhelming negative results from Pennsylvania’s cyber schools and urged state reform.

In addition to supporting charter school reform legislation sponsored by Rep. Ciresi and other legislators, the governor’s administration has proposed six new regulations for charter schools to provide much-needed consistency, transparency and accountability, while preserving school choice.

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