Top 5 Reasons State Senators Should Oppose SB 1085

New year, old bill. Today’s post comes to us from our colleague, Susan Spicka, a public education advocate from the middle part of the state who has been tracking the progress of SB1085. As you may recall, that is the Senate bill that proposes to “reform” charter schools, but will actually cause more harm than good. We desperately need charter reform, but SB1085 is not it. [See “Stop This Bill” and “Killer Weeds”] Spicka has identified five reasons our state senators should oppose this bill. In a series of guest spots this week, we will share them with you.

Susan explains, “The PA Senate is poised to vote on SB 1085 … Now is the time for Pennsylvanians who care about our public schools to contact our state senators and urge them to oppose this legislation. … Please take a few minutes, contact your senator each day this week to share your concerns about these flawed policies, urge him/her to oppose SB 1085, and share this information far and wide! If our senators don’t hear from voters, they will likely pass this bill.”

Reason #5 our State Senators Should Oppose SB 1085
The Private Authorizer System

SB 1085 creates a private authorizer system for charter schools in PA. More than 100 institutions of higher education, including institutions with no experience, capacity, or faculty in education, would be allowed to authorize an unlimited number of charter schools without input from local communities.  Charter schools will be able to set up shop without community approval, and send us the bill—whether we can afford it or not.

In addition, SB 1085 would allow even more taxpayer dollars intended for educating public school children to be siphoned off to private entities. Institutions of higher education would be permitted to receive public dollars for being unaccountable authorizers of charter schools. Good charter school policy should keep more taxpayer dollars in classrooms educating our children, not allow more taxpayer dollars to be siphoned into private pockets.

SB 1085 supporters often cite the university authorizer system in New York as the reason that PA should have a university authorizer. However, New York has exactly ONE university authorizer, NOT more than 100. SB 1085 would create a Wild West scenario in charter school authorization in PA. A single school district will potentially have more charter school authorizers than almost any other state, and more than all neighboring states combined! (Charter Schools and Higher Education Authorizers)

The bottom line is that the private authorizer system in SB 1085 will not increase the quality of charter schools in PA. The private authorizer system WILL, however, give charter school operators an item at the top of their wish list ­– the ability to open charter schools in communities throughout Pennsylvania without the approval of the taxpayers who will have to pay the bills.

Please contact your senator here and urge him or her to oppose SB 1085 because of the deeply flawed private authorizer system. Feel free to cut and paste this message:

Please oppose SB 1085, which would create a private authorizer system for charter schools in PA. SB 1085 would strip local control from taxpayers and allow more than 100  institutions of higher education, including institutions with no experience, capacity, or faculty in education, to authorize charter schools without input from local communities.

Charter schools are public institutions that are paid for by the communities in which they are located. SB 1085 creates a system of taxation without representation where a private entity can authorize an unlimited number of charter schools in our communities without regard for the impact on local taxpayers, who will be required by law to foot the bill.

I most strongly urge you to oppose SB 1085 and to work on real charter school reform in PA that will craft a sustainable charter school funding formula to create efficiencies for taxpayers, relieve the overwhelming financial burden on our school districts, and help strengthen Pennsylvania’s entire system of public education.

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