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URGENT ACTION REQUIRED PA SB 1085

The PA Senate Appropriations Committee is close to passing a charter school bill that could negatively impact schools. We continue to be concerned with the proposal because the goal of any legislative effort to reform Pennsylvania’s charter school sector should be one that ensures quality growth. As currently written SB 1085 does not.

To grow good charter schools, the evidence is abundantly clear that quality charter schools are directly correlated to quality authorizers. States with multiple, independent authorizers — independent legally and managerially from existing local and state education agencies — produce more and better opportunities for students.

In Michigan, university authorizers are constitutionally autonomous from the state department of education. The State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute is also autonomous and is accountable to taxpayers and the legislature for the schools they authorize and manage.

These are just two models that prove independence from existing structures should be encouraged and valued in order to attract high quality universities that are also progressive, forward–thinking, and looking for opportunities to be distinctive. If the goal is to bring strong higher education institutions into the fold to improve K-12 student outcomes, the Pennsylvania Department of Education can’t be controlling every move. As currently written, SB 1085 regulates at an unprecedented level.

Over 15 Articles (including over 100 provisions)  already apply to charter schools under PA Code Section 1732-A, yet the current proposal adds dozens of pages of increased regulation for charters and authorizers.

We encourage you to read through the current proposal and contact your legislators.

For your convenience, we have marked up a copy of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1085 to show on the same document where language is wrong, bad for chartering, or the cause of additional, punitive or damaging oversight. Download it here.

This proposal would need to be significantly amended before it goes to conference and that is highly unlikely. It is time to scrap this bill and work to build a consensus on what will help improve outcomes for Pennsylvania’s students.