Op-Ed: School Choice in Pennsylvania must be Preserved

The attacks on charter schools from the Wolf Administration and their teacher union allies are mounting. Recent “reform” measures being touted seek to cut the funding of charter schools by $395 million.

The timing is awfully interesting. The pandemic has fueled continued enrollment increases at charter schools as parents seek an alternative to their underwhelming local public-school option. Powerful teacher unions have sent a message loud and clear to their allies in Harrisburg: Competition for enrollment must be crushed.

What opponents of school choice cannot ban, they will restrict and defund to the point of nilpotence.

Charter schools allow parents to have an alternative to a public-school school system that does not share their values and/or academic expectations.

The supposed “savings” of the $395 million dollars in cuts to charter schools is not refunded back to taxpayers. It would instead be syphoned back into the same school system parents wanted to remove their support from in the first place.

Further, the slashing of funds would disproportionately affect minorities. Over 64% of Charter School students come from minority households, largely concentrated in low income neighborhoods. Why would we punish those who need educational alternatives the most?

In a recent op-ed, Education Secretary Noe Ortega stated that “the companies that make huge profits from charter schools hate these commonsense reforms. They want to keep lining their pockets with your tax dollars and to continue operating in the shadows. Every student, parent, and taxpayer deserve better.”

I look forward to the same scrutiny being applied to our failing public schools.

Secretary Ortega has been a loyal foot soldier in Wolf’s attempts to punish public school competition. It is one of several reasons that I voted “No” on his recent Senate confirmation.

As State Senator, I will continue to support educational freedom and empower those parents who seek flexible educational opportunities for their children.


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