A quality education system is the cornerstone of every strong community. Every child in Pennsylvania should have access to a quality education regardless of their zip code. Equitable state funding for our school districts, reforming our charter school laws, expansion of Pre-K programs, and job training programs will prepare our children for success. This also means ensuring that our children receive the social supports they need to thrive.
Pennsylvania has one of the widest funding gaps between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country. While Pennsylvania has taken a major shift in how the Commonwealth funds school districts with the adoption of a permanent funding formula, we must continue to make major investments in education to ensure that poorer school districts are receiving the resources they need equip our children for the future. As your State Representative, I will always make funding education a priority.
Our Commonwealth has some of the most unrestrictive Charter School laws in the country. It is time that we level the playing field between charter and traditional public schools. Charters must be as accountable to taxpayers as traditional Public Schools. To accomplish this I propose the following reforms:
Require the majority of a Charter School Board to be elected from the parents of children attending that school.
Require that Charter Schools provide teachers' and school employees' the right to unionize and to bargain collectively over working conditions.
Prohibit anyone with a financial relationship to a management organization or the staff of any authorizing agency from serving on the governing Board of any Charter School.
Prohibit charter schools from using enrollment/registration guidelines that exclude or discourage certain students from enrolling at the school.
Currently, traditional Public Schools are paying Cyber Charter Schools at the same pay rate as brick and mortar Charter Schools. This leads to overpayment for online schools that do not have the same expenses as schools with brick and mortar buildings. Therefore, the Commonwealth must overhaul the way we fund Charter and Cyber schools. I believe the first step would be to re-instate the Charter School Reimbursement line item that was cut by the Corbett Administration. This would reduce the burden that many Public Schools face because of Charter School expansion.
Many students and families are facing difficult social and economic situations that often affect a child's ability to learn. As a Commonwealth, we must adopt the Community Schools Model. Public Schools must become community hubs that bring together many community partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. The Community Schools Model focuses on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement which leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. The Commonwealth must support and grow this model in struggling school districts to insure each child and family has the opportunity to succeed.