Charter backers advocate for authorizers
PHILADELPHIA — With the cost and quality of charter schools dominating the state's public education debate, lawmakers face at least a dozen bills seeking better accountability of the publicly financed but independently run schools.
Much of the legislation focuses on funding formulas and audits. Yet some charter backers say what's missing is a provision for independent statewide authorizers — entities to ensure the operation of only high-quality charters.
“Great authorizing makes for great schools, both in terms of achievement and financial and operational accountability,” said Jeanne Allen, president of the Washington-based Center for Education Reform.
Allen is among those advocating for Pennsylvania to join New York, Michigan and Indiana, which use independent agencies to evaluate applications by would-be charter operators and monitor the schools' progress before granting renewals.
Charter operators apply to local districts for approval. Some say that has led to a patchwork of standards and oversight.
“It was sort of a Wild West situation, where some districts have done a very good job, and others have not,” said Robert Fayfich, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
The quality of Pennsylvania's 175 charters is a hot issue. Eight cyber charter applications were recently rejected for academic and fiscal deficiencies; the auditor general this month alleged several improper charter school leasing arrangements; and state Rep. James Roebuck, D-West Philadelphia, highlighted 44 troubled charters in introducing reform legislation last week.
Critics say charters drain resources from their district-operated counterparts without offering a better education. Supporters contend the alternative schools, which enroll about 5 percent of students statewide, offer innovative alternatives to traditional schools.
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association opposes authorizers.
“They would be making funding decisions for a local community, and there would be no accountability back to those people,” spokesman Steve Robinson said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mom, daughter die from injuries in food truck blast
- Upper St. Clair family’s efforts pay off as governor signs Down syndrome education bill
- Pennsylvania liquor licenses are considered ‘better than gold’
- Mother, maternal grandparents charged in abuse of Mercer County boy
- Police: Mom, grandparents nearly starved Mercer County boy, 7
- 2 Greene County residents charged with killing 3 in W.Va.
- Philly Nazi suspect dies as extradition request OK’d
- More than 500 migrant kids sent to Pennsylvania