On Tuesday, April 25th, the PA House passed HB 97 by a vote of 108-84.
Click HERE to learn if your state representative supported or opposed HB 97. Ten Republicans and 74 Democrats voted against the bill. If your lawmaker opposed HB 97, please take a minute to make a call to say “thank you” for this vote in support quality public schools in PA.
The House jammed this bill through with lightning speed. Minimal changes were made to the original bill, despite rhetoric during the Education Committee meeting that indicated the bill was a work in progress and would be amended to address significant concerns expressed by many stakeholders.
HB 97 will now go to the Senate for consideration.
The billionaire-funded charter school lobby’s fingerprints are all over HB 97 and we have been deeply disappointed to see misinformation about this bill pouring out of Harrisburg.
Moving forward, it will be critical for Pennsylvanians to make sure that our state senators clearly understand what HB 97 would mean for the local taxpayers and public school students in their districts. It is going to be up to us–voters in senators’ districts–to make sure they understand that:
- HB 97 does not fix the $100 million profit (and growing) that charters reap off students with disabilities each year from the broken special education funding system. There is no language requiring charters to spend special education funding on services for students with disabilities or requiring charters to equitably serve all students, including students with disabilities who require significant services.
- HB 97 does not address the continued abysmal academic performance of the state’s cyber charter schools — none of which have met the minimum proficiency standard on the state’s school performance profile.
- HB 97 creates separate performance standards by which to evaluate charter/cyber charter schools and district schools, making a comparison of education quality between the two sectors impossible. Cyber charter performance won’t look as bad if cyber charters are compared only to other charter schools, many of which are also very low-performing.
- HB 97 ties the hands of school boards. If HB 97 becomes law, local school boards would be prohibited from requesting any information from charter applicants beyond the information in a state-created application form; local school boards would be subjected to the whim of charter operators to amend their charter; and local school board decisions regarding charter applications and renewals would be at the mercy of the state’s Charter Appeal Board, which would be stacked with charter school supporters.
Advocates have a very real opportunity to support quality public education and make a difference for public school students in the upcoming weeks. I hope that you will join us.
Also, this in-depth piece, ‘Quirk in PA charter law cripples districts while giving charters “cash cow”‘ is an excellent read about how the broken special education funding system allows charters to reap a profit off students with disabilities. This issue is NOT addressed in HB 97. HB 97 merely tasks a commission with, “Consideration of the appropriate manner of implementing the recommendations of the Special Education Funding Commission with respect to charter school entities, based on the manner in which the commission’s recommendations have been implemented for school districts.”