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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Must Defend Charter Schools

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Governor’s Budget Proposal Would Harm State’s Already Fragile Charter Law

CER Press Release
Washington, DC
March 20, 2015

Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform, issued the following statement on potential threats facing charter schools in Pennsylvania:

“The Center for Education Reform this week gave Pennsylvania’s charter school law a ‘C’ grade in Charter School Laws Across the States: 2015 Rankings and Scorecard primarily because charters face relentless hostility from both local districts, and now state leaders.

“Charter school funding in Pennsylvania passes through local districts, which has resulted in significant funding inequities since the charter law’s inception in 1997.

“Rather than include charter schools as part of the solution to improving education in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal seeks to marginalize them. The proposed obligation forced upon charters to return unused expenditures to their home district would severely threaten charters’ financial sustainability when they already face a funding handicap.

“Returning funds that exceed annual expenditures would deprive charter officials of savings and flexibility to plan for the future.

“The lack of budgetary support for charter schools is disappointing but not surprising given Wolf’s misguided refusal to back new charter school opportunities for Philadelphia students, nearly 30,000 of whom are on waitlists.

“Pennsylvania’s charter schools and the students they educate deserve a state policy environment in which these alternative public learning options can thrive. This budget makes clear that Governor Wolf has no interest in making that a reality.”