Responding to the announcement of cyber charter legislation introduced in the state House today, interim CEO Dr. Michael J. Conti expressed his disappointment with the initiative, but pledged to participate in the dialogue to improve educational opportunities for students across Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s largest cyber charter school reacts to new state House initiative
MIDLAND, PA (Jan. 25, 2013) – Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School interim CEO Dr. Michael J. Conti today issued the following statement in response to the state House Republican Caucus’ newly unveiled legislative package impacting the commonwealth’s charter and cyber charter schools.
“On behalf of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School’s more than 11,000 students and their parents who chose our school as a high-quality, innovative, appropriate choice for their child’s education, I am disheartened by this approach to public cyber charter school reform.
Over the past several legislative sessions, we felt a sense of optimism. The legislature and the administration were moving toward meaningful reforms aimed at expanding opportunities for parents and their children and putting more checks in place to ensure that our charter schools properly serve Pennsylvania students for years to come. This legislation takes a step backward.
This legislative package does nothing to further our most important mission – improving the quality of educational opportunity and expanding options to better serve Pennsylvania’s children. Its approach sets education reform back by decades, chipping away at any incentives school districts have to embrace innovation.
Rather than establishing greater checks and balances on cyber charter schools, it omits solid provisions mandating additional oversight and accountability on administrators and board members, as well as clear prohibitions against any conflicts of interest. At the same time, it takes power out of the hands of parents and returns it to bureaucrats.
This initiative ignores the financial realities plaguing the existing system. There is no comprehensive approach, as there was last session, and the proposed legislation seemingly does not recognize the actual costs involved in operating a high-performing, high-quality school like ours. Most frustrating is that the initiative tunes out the fact that cyber charter schools are already educating Pennsylvania’s children with about 30 percent less taxpayer dollars than school districts.
Expanding the fissure between traditional and non-traditional schools is no way to begin a dialogue. We ought to be furthering initiatives that encourage collaboration between and among institutions of higher learning, intermediate units, school districts, and charter and cyber charter schools.
Nevertheless, in that spirit of collaboration, we extend our pledge to work along side legislators and the administration to achieve the true public cyber charter school reform that Pennsylvania’s children and taxpayers deserve. Together we can make the commonwealth an example of educational excellence to be coveted by innovators across the country.