Gov. Tom Wolf recently proposed changes to state charter school law, citing a need for increased accountability.
He announced last week some executive actions he is undertaking to reform the 22-year-old charter school law.
Wolf said the state is ““doing everything to make sure they’re as transparent, accountable and high quality as we can make them,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Autumn Fiscus, the CEO of New Day Charter School in Huntingdon, said until changes are made, they won’t know how it would affect the school.
“We’re not exactly sure yet; we’re still waiting for more details. Until he rolls it out in practice, we really don’t know,” she said.
Wolf said he would revise state regulations, requiring more transparency for underperforming charter schools, such as in regards to their enrollment policies, but has yet to provide details as to how he would achieve this.
Charter schools are public schools that are independently operated to meet the specific needs of their students.
“We’ve had the opportunity to help a lot of students who struggle in traditional public education; we’re hoping these changes still allow us to help these students,” said Joshua Hicks, principal at New Day Charter School. “If a student is struggling, there is usually something they’re struggling with, so they look for something more suited for how they learn. Charter schools help meet the unique needs of learners. It gives them an alternative.”
Close to 143,000 students attended Pennsylvania charter schools last year
Charter schools operate under a contract with a charter school authorizer — usually a nonprofit organization, government agency or university, which holds them to the standards set by their school charter.
Wolf also wants to increase oversight of the privately-run charter management companies and organizations.
Under current charter school law, school districts provide funding for charter schools based on their enrollment.
Nathan Benefield, the Commonwealth Foundation vice president, issued a statement in response to Wolf’s proposed charter reform.
“Gov. Wolf’s charter school overhaul would cut funding for charters, cap enrollment, and place a moratorium on new cyber charter schools, even as tens of thousands of students are on waiting lists for charter schools across the state. In short, it would deny families the schooling options they seek,” he said.
Hicks sees charter schools as serving an important function within the educational system.
“Charter schools are public schools, too. We just have charters that are unique,” he said. “They meet a need; they’re tailored to the community they serve. We just want to keep helping kids”
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