Sunday, July 10, 2016

25 Reasons to Vote NO on PA #HB530 Charter School Reform

25 Reasons to Vote NO on PA #HB530 Charter School Reform
Keystone State Education Coalition July 10, 2016

The Pennsylvania House may vote on House Bill 530 as early as Sunday evening.  Please reach out to your State Representative and urge them to vote NO on this legislation.

Call your State Rep’s office and urge them to oppose HB530

Pennsylvania taxpayers now spend more than $1.4 billion on charter and cyber charter school tuition bills annually in addition to funding all of the state’s traditional public schools.  The current “rob from public school Peter to pay charter school Paul” system drains money from traditional public schools, forcing districts to cut programs and services for the students who remain.  In 2011 the charter reimbursement: line was eliminated from the state budget.  It used to provide state funding to districts for the costs and financial exposure resulting from the addition of charter schools.

1.     #HB530 does bring much needed reform and has several helpful provisions, but the harm that it does far outweighs the good.

2.     #HB530 does not provide significant accountability to taxpayers for payments made to charter school entities.  It fails to adequately serve the interests of Pennsylvania taxpayers.

3.     #HB530 Would create a Charter School Funding Commission. The commission would consider establishing an independent state level board to authorize charter school entities, bypassing any local decision-making by school boards and their communities.

4.     #HB530 further limits the ability of communities to negotiate the role of charters locally.  The decisions about how, when, and where to expand them should be made by those who have the information and expertise to do so in ways that improve education.

5.     #HB530 is an entirely unwarranted intervention in the local governance of school districts.  It would remove local control of tax dollars from PA taxpayers and their elected school directors.

6.     #HB530 means even less charter accountability, potential skyrocketing costs to districts and unelected panels making decisions with public tax dollars.

7.     #HB530 sets no limits to money that charters can drain from local school districts and eliminates the capability for districts to plan and budget.

8.     #HB530 is a vehicle for the PA Legislature to have local taxpayers pay for unlimited charter expansion.

9.     #HB530 would let charter operators expand and spend your public tax dollars without any public input.

10.  #HB530 would let charters expand by adding grades without any local input or authorization regardless of performance.

11.  #HB530 would let charters expand by enrolling students from outside of the district.  A charter school that has reached an agreed upon enrollment cap of resident students would be able to circumvent that cap by enrolling students from outside the district in which it is located.

12.  #HB530 does nothing to address the enormous drain of tax dollars from all 500 school districts for chronically underperforming cyber schools that were authorized by the state.  Nearly every national study of virtual school performance has found their performance lacking, including studies by “pro school choice” organizations.

13.  Cyber charters continue to perform poorly, but in #HB530, the PA legislature didn't create a cyber charter quality task force or a commission to study student outcomes in cybers.  Not one PA cyber charter has achieved a passing score of 70 on the state’s School Performance Profile in the three years that it has been in use.  Most cybers never made Adequate Yearly Progress under all the years that No Child Left Behind was in effect.

14.  #HB530 sets no limits on the amount of taxpayer dollars that can be spent on charter advertising annually.

15.  #HB530 proposes a new 14-member Charter School Funding Advisory Commission without including a single one of the state’s 4500 locally elected school directors who are responsible for raising revenue in their school districts.

16.  Even though over 90% of PA kids are educated in district schools #HB530 stacks the Charter Appeals Board in favor of charter schools.

17.  If charter schools are public schools, why should they have different methods of evaluating the schools and their teachers as proposed in #HB530?

18.  #HB530 requires use of a performance matrix that makes it impossible to compare charters’ performance with their sending school districts’ performance.

19.  #HB530 creates a separate evaluation system for charter school teachers instead of using the existing state system.

20.  #HB530 would let charters keep your tax dollars to accumulate fund balances that are 4% to 8% higher than their respective school districts.

21.  All of the accountability provisions in #HB530 mean nothing and can be easily bypassed if a charter school contracts with a management company to run the operations of the charter. Chester Community Charter School, the state’s largest charter, is the poster child for this with Charter School Management, Inc. founded and run by Republican power broker Vahan Gureghian.

22.  None of the accountability, audit or transparency provisions of #HB530 would apply to charter management companies.

23.  If a charter is run by a management company, the public has zero information on how their tax dollars are spent. #HB530 does not address this.

24.  #HB530 does nothing to require any fiscal transparency or reporting from charter management companies.

25.  #HB530 would divert an additional $25 million in tax dollars to unaccountable private and religious schools through the EITC program.

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