Philly School Search blogger Len Lipkin has had a change of heart about the impact Gov. Corbett's budget would have on charters. When informed by one of his readers that Corbett’s proposal is actually diverting money from all PA districts that was earmarked for charters into an independently run “state charter authorizer” which would manage charter funding centrally instead of through the state, Lipkin said he "could not have been more wrong."
Apparently charter schools are actually heavily in favor of Corbett’s budget as evidenced by the statement from The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, an advocacy and educational nonprofit representing the state’s charter schools, which applauds Corbett for recognizing and responding to the growing demand by families for public school choice.
In his budget, the governor calls for the establishment of an independent state charter school authorizer. That authorizer will be charged with setting a uniform application, review, and decision making process for charter schools and will be responsible for approving new charters and renewing existing charters. Currently, school districts serve as authorizers for brick-and-mortar charter schools, in spite of the various legal and financial conflicts-of-interest this scenario creates. Those conflicts have limited the charter school movement’s ability to fully meet families’ demands for public school choice as some school districts throughout the state refused to authorize new charter schools or refused to permit existing charter schools to expand because those districts fear losing students would equate to losing revenue.
“The Administration further recognizes that school districts should no longer be empowered to interfere with that choice based upon those districts’ own budgetary challenges.”
The independent state charter school authorizer will also oversee the state’s cyber charter schools, which are currently monitored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.