Charter Reform Done Right

Whether it’s a walk down the hall to a colleague’s office, or a flight across the ocean to see an old friend, visits show you care. Governor Tom Wolf visits many people and places. Just this week, Wolf returned from Eastern Europe, where he visited about 600 Pennsylvania National Guard members. Last month, Wolf went on a hot dog tour in honor of National Hot Dog Day. And over the past five years, Wolf has visited 167 schools as part of his “Schools That Teach Tour.”

Yet Wolf hasn’t visited a single private school or public charter school.

Rather, Wolf kicked off the summer by vetoing legislation that could have provided educational scholarships for up to 50,000 waitlisted students. Two months later, the governor attacked charter schools, again under the guise of accountability and transparency.

While transparency and accountability for Pennsylvania students is something we all support, Wolf’s actions limit options for hundreds of thousands of kids.

So what does good charter school reform look like?

CF supports the current suite of charter reform bills that updates Pennsylvania’s 1997 charter school law, while preserving choice for Pa. families.

  • House Bill 355—Rep. Reese—strengthens and clarifies ethics requirements for charter school operators.
  • House Bill  356—Rep. Dowling—provides charter students access to school buildings and testing sites.
  • House Bill  357— Rep. Topper—creates a uniform and transparent charter application and enrollment process.
  • House Bill  358—Rep. Marshall—allows charter students the opportunity to participate in dual enrollment programs at institutions of higher education, just like their peers in district schools.
  • Senate Bill 590—Sen. Browne—establishes a bipartisan charter school funding commission.

Instead of using executive powers to bypass legislation, Wolf should work with the General Assembly to pass these reforms, which have already passed their respective chambers.

The kids Wolf is targeting can’t afford funding cuts or arbitrary enrollment limits. Pennsylvania charter students are disproportionately low-income and minority, yet they receive 27% less funding than district students.


Chart: Pa District and Charter Students

If Wolf works with the legislature instead of unilaterally, Pennsylvania can pass reforms, without undermining choice and opportunity. Meanwhile, Wolf should visit a charter school or two to see what happens when parents are free to choose the best education for their kids.