As Pennsylvanians rally to stop Betsy DeVos from becoming Secretary of Education (and Senator Pat Toomey tries his hardest to ignore us), we are working with a coalition of parents, disability rights advocates, faith leaders, and advocacy groups to build public pressure on our state lawmakers to fix an egregious flaw in PA charter law that mandates more than $100 million in special education overpayments to charter schools every year and causes segregation of students by type of disability in school district and charter schools.
Expense reports filed by the charter schools themselves and documented in a report by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, demonstrate that $100 million in special education funding that charters receive from school districts is not used to pay for services for students with disabilities.
Instead, because of Pennsylvania’s broken charter school law, charter schools divert more than $100 million in special education funding from school districts into things that don’t benefit students with disabilities, including fattening administrative salaries, lining the pockets of charter operators, and paying for other expenses such as advertising.
As we enter another tough budget season in Harrisburg, here is waste and inefficiency staring legislators in the face. It is simply unacceptable that again this year schools either will have to cut $100 million of programs and services or keep property taxes higher by that amount simply because lawmakers refuse to fix special education funding in their broken charter school law.
In addition, in a new, deeply troubling report, Inequities in Pennsylvania’s Charter Sector:Segregation by Disability, the Education Law Center demonstrates the impact of a perverse financial incentive for charter schools to enroll only students with disabilities requiring minimal services.
PA’s broken charter law causes the segregation of students by type of disability and the denial of access to charter schools for students with disabilities requiring higher cost aids and services.
We must resist attacks on our public schools at the federal level AND we must hold our state lawmakers accountable for the policies they support in Harrisburg. It is time for every elected official in PA to stand up to moneyed special interests and to do what is right for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers and public school children.
We must demand that Harrisburg take a step toward creating a system of public education in PA that will treat ALL children fairly and adequately fund ALL schools by fixing special education funding for charter schools. This year state lawmakers must apply the special education funding formula to charter schools to match the funding charters receive with the cost of services they provide to students with disabilities.
Please note: We were able to create this infographic thanks to the generous donations of our supporters. Thank you!! Every donation makes a difference. We will be organizing actions around this issue in upcoming weeks as lawmakers dig into charter school reform and the state budget.