April 14, 2021

Joe Cirisi: PA charter school law is old and broken — and it’s time we fix it

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State Rep. Joe Ciresi, from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, serves on the state’s House Education, Commerce, Tourism & Redevelopment and Gaming Oversight committees. In this op-ed from the GoErie website, he explains why the overhaul of PA charter law proposed by Governor Tom Wolf is both necessary and long overdue.

Our charter school law is colossally out of date, and it’s hurting kids and hurting taxpayers, while letting private company middlemen siphon away money intended to teach students.

It’s a law written in 1997. The only major change made was five years later to allow charter schools to go fully online — to have students learn from home, but the cyber charters still collect the same tuition dollars.

That was in 2002, which, amazingly, was almost 20 years ago. Think about how much technology has changed. It’s time to have a charter school law built for the future, not the past.

Today, 20 cents of every dollar paid in property taxes goes to charter schools, and just 14 charter schools are being paid more than a half-billion in tax dollars every year. It’s not sustainable, and we’re seeing kids suffer as a result.

If we’re going to treat all schools fairly — and put kids and families first — we need charters to be partners with our traditional public schools, not competitors for dollars taken from long-suffering homeowners.

Read the full op-ed here.

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