Funding for Cybers up For Debate

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story about an upcoming hearing on charter schools and cyber school funding. As I will be testifying at the hearing, I won’t repeat my remarks here. I will add a couple of points in response to criticism:

At today’s hearing, Zahorchak is scheduled to testify that the administration of Gov. Rendell again will push for a statewide tuition rate for cyber charters and for capping the amount of their unreserved balances, an Education Department spokesman said.

The complaint that cyber schools have too much in their fund balances is ridiculous, unless you also complain that school districts typically have much larger amounts in their reserve funds. Cyber schools typically need to keep a large reserve because school districts refuse to paying in a timely manner.

State Sen Andrew E. Dinniman (D., West Chester) said that among the questions he planned to ask charter operators was how they intended to guard against further financial scandals. …

As The Inquirer has reported, at least three Philadelphia charter schools and a cyber charter in Devon have been ensnared in a widening federal criminal probe.

As Bob Maranto has pointed out, charter schools are more accountable, as they depend on parents choosing them, and can be shut down/have their charter revoke. Unfortunatlely, this emphasis on a few problems in charter schools (leading to the main theme of today’s hearing, remaking the entire charter law), doesn’t address far more important questions, fraud, wasteful spending, or poor academic performance in school districts.