by Nathan Benefield
Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives
March 24, 2014
Charter school reform remains a critical policy challenge facing Pennsylvania. This testimony examines three major aspects of proposed charter school reforms—accountability, authorization and growth, and funding. There have been several anecdotal cases of fraud and abuse by charter school operators (the same could be said of school district administrators and staff). But such abuses should not be used to demonize charter schools or eliminate charter schools. Improving school spending transparency would make charter school operators more accountable to taxpayers. Meanwhile, although enrollments in charter schools have skyrocketed, another 44,000 students currently await admission, in large part due to local school board resistance to approving charter schools and local enrollment caps on charter schools. Finally, much of the controversy related to charter school finances is based on misinformation. Charter schools receive less funding per student than district schools, and district schools keep the difference.