Revamp Charter School Laws To Increase School Choice

Pennsylvania came in 11th among 40 states in the annual ranking of state charter school laws by the Center for Education Reform. While the Commonwealth has been better in addressing deficiencies in their charter laws, there are still areas that need attention.

For instance, school boards are inconsistent in their approval and oversight, making multiple authorizers a needed reform. Senator Piccola’s legislation to allow universities to approve the creation of a charter school is a step in the right direction. Presently, though, charters under Pennsylvania law cannot be started unless give permission from often-hostile school boards.

Also, charters suffer from inequitable funding. CF has documented the fact that the state does not treat public school and charter school students equitably. The amount, charter schools receive per-pupil is about 80% of regular public schools. The Rendell administration has also proposed reducing cyber charter school funding to lowest the spending by a cyber school making AYP, a clear double standard.

Although Pennsylvania has made progress in school choice, there are many areas which still need reform, especially if the state wants to win the “Race to the Top.”