Form our friends at Education Voters of PA:
Last week in the House, Republicans passed four charter school bills. One bill in the package, HB 357, is the Holy Grail expansion bill that the charter industry has been seeking for years. If HB 357 becomes law, charter school expansion will be turbocharged throughout the commonwealth. And, unlike other expansion bills in the past, there are no student performance requirements for charter schools in HB 357, so even the poorest-performing charter schools will be able to proliferate.
HB 357 could move to the Senate for a vote. Or it could be placed in a School Code bill, which is a type of Frankenstein legislation lawmakers create by including many different bills that satisfy different constituencies so that it gains the support of a majority of lawmakers and becomes difficult for the governor to veto.
You can help.
Click HERE to email your state senator to urge him/her to oppose HB 357, the charter school expansion bill, either as a standalone bill or in the School Code, and to instead pass cyber charter school funding reform.
There should be NO action on charter school bills in Harrisburg without cyber charter school funding reform.
Please contact your state senator NOW and ask him/her to oppose HB 357 and to pass cyber charter school funding reform instead.
If HB 357 becomes law and the charter school industry gets what it wants in terms of increased ability to expand without oversight, the chances of Harrisburg enacting meaningful cyber charter school funding reform will plummet. There will simply be no reason for the charter industry to come to the table to negotiate for cyber charter funding reform moving forward.
In other news, last week the PA Senate voted along party lines for HB 800, legislation that increases funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) school voucher program by $100 million, to $210 million in EITC vouchers for private and religious school students in the 2019-2020 budget. A built-in 10% annual increase in funding in HB 800 would bring the EITC total alone to an eye-popping $544 million in just 10 years. This legislation already passed out of the PA House.
Governor Wolf has said he will veto the bill, so there is no action needed on this legislation.
A lot can happen in Harrisburg as lawmakers and the Governor negotiate the budget. I will keep you updated as we learn more.
In the meantime, please contact your state senator NOW and ask him/her to oppose HB 357 and to pass cyber charter school funding reform.
Thank you for your continued support of public education.
Other bills that are part of the charter school package include the following:
HB 355 imposes minor additional ethics requirements on charter schools.
HB 356 gives charter schools the right of first refusal to purchase a school building that is put up for sale. Amendments in the House made this bill marginally better so Education Voters of PA will no longer score this negatively on a legislative scorecard.
HB 358 allows charter schools to enter into dual enrollment agreements with post-secondary institutions.
BASD Proud Parents is strictly pro-public education. We are an independent group with no affiliations to the BASD school board or any political parties. Our goals are to help parents stay informed about educational policy discussions and to facilitate ways for any of us who would like the chance to have our voices heard, to get more involved in those policy conversations.