October 18, 2012

PSEA President: PDE should answer charter school questions

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis owes parents, students, and educators an explanation about why he relaxed academic standards for charter schools without federal approval while targets for traditional public schools have increased dramatically.

In an October 18 statement, PSEA President Mike Crossey pointed out that it makes no sense to relax standards for a small category of charter schools while traditional public schools are struggling to meet high standards in the face of nearly $1 billion in state funding cuts.

“Pennsylvania’s public schools are in a perfect storm of unprecedented state funding cuts and rapidly increasing academic standards,” Crossey said. “Why is Secretary Tomalis letting charter schools off the hook and doing nothing to help the rest of the public schools?”

Recently, the state Department of Education changed the way that it determines whether charter schools have met state academic targets without first obtaining approval from the federal Department of Education. As a result, the new method overstates charter schools’ performance.

Methods used for traditional public schools have not been relaxed. In fact, the percentage of students required to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals has spiked dramatically and will continue to climb.

“It looks like Secretary Tomalis and PDE are gaming the system for charter schools, while traditional public schools get no resources and no relief,” Crossey said. “Pennsylvanians are watching this happen, and scratching their heads. We deserve an explanation.”





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