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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Misses the Mark on School Choice

September 3, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently vetoed a
bill that would have expanded private school choice for low- and
middle-income families. Less than two months later, Wolf
is calling
to further regulate
 the commonwealth’s public charter
schools. At first glance, his new plan sounds like a great idea. I
mean, who can argue with slogans like “quality
education for all students
” and “taxpayer accountability”?

The only problem is that the policy prescriptions actually get
us further away from the stated goals. Here’s why.

The governor’s plan calls to “prevent charters from overcharging
school districts and taxpayers” to achieve “fair funding.” This
recommendation has it completely backwards. According to the most
recent data from
the Pennsylvania Department of Education, district-run public
schools spend $19,242 per child and public charter schools spend
$14,113 per child. That’s right, public charter schools spend
$5,129 – or 27 percent - lessper
pupil than district-run public schools.

This large funding disparity is especially disturbing
considering public charter schools serve over double
the proportion
 of students
of color
 and 1.3
times the proportion
 of economically
disadvantaged students
compared to district-run schools.
Systematically underfunding historically disadvantaged groups
obviously isn’t fair. So why would anyone think it would be fair to
increase these funding inequities?

Fair funding means giving all children the same education
dollars regardless of what kind of school works best for them. If
Governor Wolf wants fair and equal funding for public education, he
should instead be calling for a big increase in per pupil funding
for public charter schools. Yet here we are.

The plan similarly calls to “make charters pay for their
administrative costs instead of taxpayers” for “taxpayer
accountability. But district-run public schools also have
administrative costs that are covered by taxpayers. Why should
public charter schools have to cover these costs when they already
receive less than three-quarters of the per pupil funding as
district-run public schools? Again, this double standard doesn’t
sound like “fair funding for all public schools.”

And we haven’t even gotten to the worst part.

Wolf also wants to “limit enrollment at underperforming
charters” so that we can have “quality education for all …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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