Yesterday, the State Senate approved SB 1115, a charter school reform bill, which now goes to the House.
This is a positive development for Pennsylvania children and parents. However, the bill doesn’t go as far as it should. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, a provision to create a state-wide charter authorization board was stripped from the bill, and it does not include a meaningful parent trigger. Charter funding and authorization will remain a major issue next session.
The argument for watering down the charter school reforms was to appease government unions and special interest groups. Nonetheless, the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers is on the attack. Also criticizing the compromise are the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and other education establishment groups. We addressed the major charter school myths being propagated earlier this week.
In other words, lawmakers are getting just as much flak as they would if they were voting on more transformative legislation. If opposition to reform awaits lawmakers no matter how much or how little they do, it’s worth it to be bold and stand on principle, especially when children’s education is at stake. That’s a valuable lesson from this year’s charter school tussle.