Department Of Education, Legislators, And School Leaders Urge Action On Charter School Accountability, Reform

Pennsylvania Department of Education, Press Release, April 30, 2021

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) Acting Secretary Noe Ortega joined state Senators Lindsey Williams and Jim Brewster, McKeesport Area School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman, and Deer Lakes School District Superintendent Dr. Janell Logue-Belden today for a virtual press conference to discuss bipartisan legislation to hold charter schools accountable to students and taxpayers.

“Students across the commonwealth deserve a quality education that prepares them for success in life,” said Acting Secretary Noe Ortega. “In an effort to ensure the continued mission of high-quality learning in PA, our public schools must be held accountable for their educational outcomes and subject to fair, predictable funding structures and standards.”

The pandemic has increased the urgency for legislative action as charter school and cyber school taxpayer costs and enrollment have soared. Sens. Williams and Brewster are the prime sponsors of SB 27, which protects taxpayers by reining in skyrocketing charter school costs, holds low-performing charter schools accountable to improve the quality of education and increases the transparency of for-profit companies that run many charter schools.

In February, Governor Wolf unveiled common sense and fair bipartisan charter school accountability reform. The plan preserves school choice by fixing Pennsylvania’s outdated charter school law that is regarded as the worst in the country.

Last year, taxpayers spent $2.1 billion on charter schools, including more than $600 million on cyber schools. This year, the burden on taxpayers will increase by more than $400 million. The uncontrolled cost of charter schools can cause school districts to cut educational programs and raise local property taxes.