Tom Wolf Releases Charter School Plan

Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf

Businessman and governor candidate Tom Wolf released his plan to reform charter schools in Pennsylvania.

Wolf plans to amend the funding formula in a way that is equitable to public schools and charter schools, eliminate pension double dipping, increase academic and financial oversight, and forbid the use of taxpayer money on lobbying. His policy also includes a $1 billion increase to public school funding to restore Pennsylvania to federal stimulus level funding.

“Too many of Pennsylvania’s charter schools are failing students and making it more difficult for students in public schools to get a strong education,” Tom Wolf said. “Too many charter schools – especially our cyber charter schools – are underperforming and failing to provide our children with a high quality education. I will reform policies and strengthen oversight and accountability of the charter school sector while leveraging the effective, innovative teaching tools being developed in our high performing charter schools.”

Charter schools are no stranger to controversy. Just 43 charter schools, and no cyber charter schools, met federally mandated performance requirements during the 2011-2012 school year. Most recently, the founder of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School was accused of stealing $1 million dollars from taxpayers.

The state senate is already addressing the issue of charter school reform with SB 1085, which would address authorization and oversight of charter schools.

This plan comes in addition to a general education plan that he released earlier. Other governor candidates are addressing education too. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz’s policy includes universal pre-k, restore education funding and alter the funding formula for public schools. Former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty’s plan is a multi-step map for increasing state education funding.

Fellow former DEP Secretary John Hanger released an education plan yesterday that, like Wolf’s, focuses on transparency and accountability for charter schools. His policy also includes state increases to education funding levels and transferring control of public schools from the state back to local school boards. It also addresses the treatment of teachers changes to state standardized tests.

Other candidates for governor include State Treasurer Rob McCord, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Pastor Max Myers and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.

9 thoughts on “Tom Wolf Releases Charter School Plan

  1. There’s another item worth considering: restricting failed charter applicants’ ability to reapply. In Lancaster, a group who was denied a charter school in March has just submitted a new, equally bad, application that will cost the district tens of thousands of dollars in staff and legal time and will require countless additional hours of unpaid time for school board members.

  2. IS THE FUTURE OF SCHOOL’S IN TOM CORBETT’S PENNSYLVANIA: YOUR KID WITH A COMPUTER AND HIS NEIGHBORHOOD TEACHER BASED IN BANGALORE, INDIA??
    Sanchez: The Crisis in Philadelphia Public Schools

    By dianeravitch

    November 21, 2013 //

    14

    Claudio Sanchez of NPR did an excellent analysis of the tragedy unfolding in the Philadelphia public schools. The schools have been under state control for a dozen years. When Paul Vallas was in charge, he implemented a bold privatization experiment, which failed. Now the schools are vastly underfunded by the state of Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Corbett can find any amount of money to give corporate tax breaks, but he wants to extract $300 million from the Philadelphia schools. His big idea is to squeeze the money out of the budget by cutting jobs and teachers’ salaries. The schools have been cut to the bone. Many lack guidance counselors, arts programs, librarians, social workers, and in addition, thousands of teachers were laid off.

    The governor (whose approval rating is currently about 20%) wants more charters so that private operators can take charge of the kids. The city’s superintendent, Broad-trained William Hite, talks about “right-sizing” the district by closing as many as 60 public schools.

    As Sanchez points out, the city’s elite civic and business leadership and big foundations want more charters, even though the existing charters do not outperform the regular public schools (and 19 of them have been investigated for fraudulent practices).

    His segment ends thus:

    Foundations say that money [for charter schools] is giving struggling kids a shot at a better education. In Philadelphia, though, most charters are actually performing the same — and in some cases, worse — than traditional public schools, and yet charter school enrollment has skyrocketed.

    And that makes some parents nervous.

    “It looks like they’re trying to do away with public schools and make everything charter. That’s the way it looks now to me,” says parent Donna Mackie. She has an 8-year-old at A.S. Jenks Elementary, a high-performing neighborhood school in South Philadelphia. She says parents’ biggest fear is that the district is going to shut down their school in a year or two to save money.

    School district officials have talked about closing up to 60 in five years. They call it “right sizing” the system.

    Jennifer Miller, also a Jenks mom, calls it a mistake.

    “I feel bad, and I feel like I have nowhere to go. I mean, I live here. I can’t leave the city. I can’t afford private school. This is my only choice,” Miller says.

    Sometimes, Miller says, she can’t sleep at night, not knowing whether her school and city will survive this crisis.

  3. Please, everyone, read Diane Ravitch’s groundbreaking book: Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.”

  4. behonest: Please explain to me why William Harner was forced to resign; explain why Ron Tomalis is still on the State Payroll (could it be that he knows too much about the Sandusky-Paterno-PSU scandal to be left to his own devices?) and why Charly Zogby is our Shadow Secretary of Ed? These are real questions-they might be annoying, but PA taxpayers deserve an answer.

  5. Check a budget. the state didn’t cut 1 billion in education funds. Talk about perpetuating rhetoric.

  6. @paindy. I have plenty of complaints regarding the administration. For the point of this site and Brittany remaining intellectually honest, clarifying with that word would have made the difference.

    Also- Your rants are annoying and redundant. Anyone who reads this site is not influenced by your whining. I would be interested in your posts if they had substance of value.

  7. Maybe Be Honest is practicing our Dark Prince and Acting Governor Brabender’s subliminal advertising techniques: if we say no education cuts over and over and over, we might just believe it. Dear Mr. Wolf: How much do I need to contribute to get a FULL ZOGBY! I want my Budget Secretary and my own Acting Ed Secretary like Cyber Charter School imbed Charly Zogby? Mr. Jay Pagni: 2 questions please: 1. Does acting Governor Brabender do advertising for any of the Cyber Charter Corporate Welfare Queen cabal? 2. Why is former Secretary of Ed Ron Tomalis still have an office in the PA ed building? What is he working on? How much is Ron Tomalis costing us poor taxpayers?

  8. An important clarification in the wording of this story. The pension double-dipping is not benefiting school employees and teachers. The teachers and school employees are NOT receiving double payments into their pension accounts. Instead, the charter school management companies are receiving double pension payments for teachers and school employees from state taxpayers–they receive a payment from school districts and a payment from the state. The charter school operators then pay state mandated pension costs for their employees and use the extra money taxpayer dollars that were intended to be paid into the pension system (a whole lot of them!) to pay for whatever they choose–political lobbying, huge CEO salaries, advertising, shareholder profits, airplanes, mansions, lawyers’ fees, and who knows what else.

  9. “restore funding cuts”? I see this used in the article’s description if their education platforms, Brittany. Why don’t you clarify by using the word “alleged”, since there were not cuts. Federal stimulus dollars ran out, the state didn’t cut the money these candidates are referring to.

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