A reader from Pennsylvania asks whether charter schools are public schools if they seek to avoid transparency and if their teachers are not subject to the same evaluation scheme as public school teachers:

Charters insist on being called “public” schools.

Yet in Pennsylvania charters are in court trying to prevent laws requiring them to be transparent about their operations, as public schools are required to do.

The state legislature just passed a law requiring 50% of teacher evaluations to be based test scores. The law EXEMPTS charter teachers from this new evaluation system.

In the ALEC rush of legislation at the close of its session last week, a bill was introduced in the PA legislature to EXEMPT charters from the state’s Sunshine Law which requires public institutions receiving state money to be transparent about their contracts. It received 120 favorable votes in the House and failed by a few votes in the Senate.

In Philadelphia we have a charter operator, Universal, which was given Audenreid High School, which was made a charter as soon as a new facility was built at tax payer expense, operating for the past year rent and maintenance cost free. Next year they will have to pay $500,000 which just a quarter of the expense for rent and maintanence.  The SRC will cover the rest. This is in a School District which has a $265 million deficit, plans to close 65 public schools over the next few years, and is threatening to unilaterally cut the wages and benefits of public school employees.

So I take back what I said at the beginning of this thread. Charter schools are not open to public scrutiny.