PA Charter School Laws 12th Strongest in the Nation

The Center for Education Reform ranks Pennsylvania 12th out of 41 states in their 2008 survey of America’s Charter Schools.

In Pennsylvania

  • This year 9 charter schools opened bringing the total to 132 schools serving 60,532 children. (as of April)
  • Pennsylvania does not place a cap on the number of charter schools, allowing every district to decide what is best for their community.
  • PA charter schools are free from most of the rules and regulations placed on traditional public schools.
  • The commonwealth permits multiple authorizers, or various paths for approving and managing charter schools.
  • Pennsylvania does not provide any assistance for charter school building costs.
  • 70-82% of teachers must participate in the public retirement system.


  • Over the past year waiting lists have increased by 33% despite state caps and moratoriums on new charter schools. During the 2007-08 school year 4,128 charter schools served over 1.24 million students in 40 states and Washington D.C.
  • Critics say charter schools serve fewer disadvantaged children compared to public schools based on the number of students registered for free and reduced lunches. According to CER’s survey, 54% of all charter school students qualify for these programs, but 38% do not participate for a variety of reasons.
  • Results show 52% of charter school participants are minorities, 50% are at-risk, and 54% are low income students. And charter schools are not allowed to “pick” their student body.
  • Charter schools offer longer school days and school years compared to public schools.
  • Charter schools tend to be smaller in size creating a more intimate environment for learning.
  • Teaching staff at charter schools have more independence, 85% are not participating in a union or collective bargaining agreement.
  • Of experienced teachers in the charter school system 38% reported skill based contracts and 20% have performance based pay.
  • On average charter schools received 40% less funding than traditional public schools. According to the U.S. Census public schools receive on average $10,771 for every student and spend $9,138. Charter schools receive $6,585 and spend $7,625 per student and most schools do not receive money for facility use and maintenance.

Public schools are in trouble, spending is out of control, Pennsylvania averages 12 teacher strikes every year, and test scores continue to decline . . . families need school choice. Visit and for more on how to reform PA’s education system.