Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Headed to the full Senate today, amended SB1115 charter bill still contains a “de facto” statewide authorization provision that would be a clear end-run around local school boards.

UPDATED 6:25 PM on Tuesday 10/16/12
Senate voted 33-16 to concur with amendments to SB1115
See how your Senator voted - click here for the roll call vote
SB1115 goes to the House for consideration tomorrow.
Click here to email your State Representative asking them to oppose SB1115

Send a Letter to the President on October 17

Diane Ravitch’s Blog October 3, 2012 /
Earlier I posted the draft of a letter to President Obama and asked for your help.
I got some excellent suggestions.
To begin with, this is not an online petition, but an invitation to join together to write your own individual heartfelt letter to the President and to email the White House on the same day.

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1650 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, PTO/PTA officers, teacher leaders, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

SB1115 as amended may be considered by the full Senate as early as 1:00 pm today and for concurrence by the House in short order.  SB 1115 could reach the governor’s desk by Wednesday.

While the explicit statewide authorizer, parent trigger and right-to-know exemption for vendors have been removed, the amended bill still contains a “de facto” statewide authorization provision that would be a clear end-run around local school boards.

PSBA reports that the Multiple Charter Organization provision would allow the formation of a multiple charter organization by granting a single charter to operate two or more charter schools under the oversight of a single board of trustees.

The state, and not the local school district has the authority to receive, review and act on multiple charter school organization consolidation and transfer applications. This allows charter schools to circumvent local school districts as a charter school authorizer and consolidate their charter with the Department of Education.

There is no change in the tuition and local school districts would be responsible for funding multiple charter organizations.  A multiple charter organizer does not need the permission of the local school board to reconstitute as a multiple charter organization under state authority.


Please take a minute and call your state senator and your state representative this morning and urge them to vote NO on the SB1115 charter reform bill.

  • Vote NO on de facto statewide authorization via the multiple charter organization provision that is an end run around local school boards.
  • Vote NO on direct pay by the Department of Education to Charter and Cyber operators that would deny local school districts any ability to monitor the validity of charges and payments of taxpayer funds before they are paid. 
  • Vote NO on a Statewide Charter Funding Advisory Commission where three quarters of the members are Charter and Cyber operators/advocates and gubernatorial or political appointees.  Even though traditional public schools educate more that 4 out of 5 PA students, of 17 members on this panel, only 3 would represent school districts.
  • Vote NO because SB1115 does not address the pension double dip


Pa. Senate (Rules Committee) approves some charter school regulations

October 16, 2012 12:16 am
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A state Senate panel Monday approved a set of changes to the regulation of charter schools that legislative leaders say is headed to the governor's desk.
The legislation would create a commission to examine charter school funding, mandate annual independent audits and require the state to directly pay charter schools, unless the schools opt to continue collecting payments from school districts that send students there. It does not contain provisions, such as the creation of a statewide authorizing board, that make it easier for charter schools to form.

Posted: Tue, Oct. 16, 2012, 3:01 AM
U.S. says Pa. was not authorized to change charter progress rules
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer
The U.S. Department of Education says the Pennsylvania Education Department "acted prematurely" when it changed rules for how charter schools can meet academic-performance standards on the annual PSSA achievement test.  The change makes it easier for most charters to meet the state benchmarks, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Public school advocates call it an unfair way to make charters look better than regular public schools, to which they have typically been compared.

Where are the Real Republicans?
Yinzercation Blog — OCTOBER 15, 2012
Real Republicans don’t vote to take away local control. Real Republicans don’t try to concentrate power in the hands of the state and with small groups of political appointees. Real Republicans don’t thumb their noses at public accountability. Yet this is exactly what Governor Corbett and the legislature are trying to do with the latest charter school “reform” bill that goes before the Senate Rules Committee today. [Senate Bill 1115]

PA Cyber board votes to reorganize

October 15, 2012 11:30 pm
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School board voted Monday to reorganize the top ranks at the state's largest online school, following four firings last month.
PA Cyber CEO Michael Conti also bemoaned recent reports that have stemmed from a federal probe believed to focus on former or current executives of the school.
"This brand is taking a beating every day," he said after the board meeting, adding in response to questions that he's "absolutely confident that no moneys were spent inappropriately" on a former executive's Florida condominium.

Write Your Letter to the President Now
Diane Ravitch’s Blog October 13, 2012 
It’s time to write your letter to President Obama to let him know how he should change Race to the Top.
Join the Campaign for Our Public Schools.
Should schools compete or collaborate?
Should teachers compete or collaborate?
Is education a “race” or a process of development?
Share your thoughts with the President, your Governor, and all your elected officials.
Here are the instructions.

School Choice: A Subject Both Candidates Support (corrected web link)
NPR.org October 13, 2012
The right to choose the school you want your child to attend has been the subject of court battles and bitter political debates. Still, both President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney have made school choice a cornerstone of their efforts to reform public education.

Commentary: PA charter school reform should protect taxpayers, not just K12, Inc. CEO Ron Packard and CSM CEO Vahan Gureghian
Keystone State Education Coalition October 4, 2012
Pennsylvania lawmakers should consider the following principles in any charter school reform legislation:

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