The drive to diminish local control in Pennsylvania was halted when Republicans backed away from Governor Corbett’s charter “reform” legislation. The bill would have allowed the Governor and the State Education Department to override local school boards and open charters where the local board rejected them. This is a priority for Governor Tom Corbett and for ALEC, which values privatization over local control. Apparently, some Republicans had trouble following the attack on public schools and local school boards, which are important and traditional institutions in the communities they represent. The bill would have also allowed charter operators to escape accountability and transparency in their expenditure of public funds.

I received this note from an ally in Pennsylvania, with links:

Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania had a major setback in his attempt to follow an ALEC goal of taking management of charter schools out of local control and put it in the hands of the Pennsylvania Education Department. Wednesday night the Pa. House of Representatives failed to pass what Corbett said had been his major goal of this legislative session.

Details of what happened are still coming out, but key Republicans bailed on supporting the bill. There had been growing opposition as reflected in newspaper editorials around the state.

In my opinion it is an indication that people are beginning to pay attention to ALEC’s role in state legislatures and there is growing questioning about the growth of charters and the closures of public schools..

“School Shutdowns Trigger Growing Backlash”

from Education Week


Pa. House pulls the plug on charter reform bill, killing the measure for this year
from the Harrisburg Patriot-News

“A historic charter school reform bill was all teed up for a House vote on Wednesday, but the vote never happened.
Enough House Republicans peeled away their support from the bill as the day wore on, making it apparent the measure did not have the 102 votes needed to pass. It would have been the first significant reforms to the 1997 charter law that created these independent public schools.
Concerns arose over a charter school funding study commission it would have created and other reforms it contained, said House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson.
The Senate had passed the bill on Tuesday by a 33-19 vote.”

Charter school bill falls apart in Pa. House
from the Pittsburg Post Gazette
“But House leaders worked into the night without calling the bill and, around 9:30 p.m., announced they would adjourn until after the election. After leaving the chamber, House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, attributed the breakdown in part to dissatisfaction among some members with a provision establishing a commission to examine charter school funding. Some of those members wanted the Legislature to go ahead and change aspects of funding, such as that for cyber charter schools, he said.”

House Speaker Smith: Too many “moving parts” derailed charters vote.
from Capitol Ideas at Allentown’s The Morning Call
“The top Republican in the state House said Wednesday that an inability to build consensus among both state lawmakers and interest groups derailed an expected vote on a charter school reform bill.
The state House broke for the year late Wednesday night without voting on the bill, which would have — among other things — allowed existing charter schools (with state oversight) to consolidate their operations. The bill would also have created a special state commission charged with studying special education funding issues.

The reform package, which cleared the state Senate on Tuesday night, was a top priority of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
Corbett’s spokesman, Kevin Harley, said the administration was “disappointed” by the House’s failure to vote on the reform bill and would begin work anew in January.”

Pennsylvania charter schools reform bill dies when House fails to take action
from the Delaware County Times
“Harrisburg — A closely watched proposal to rewrite the state’s charter schools law died Wednesday when the House wrapped up its two-year legislative session without putting it to a final vote.
The Senate approved the measure to toughen oversight of the publicly funded, privately run schools on Tuesday, but House Speaker Sam Smith, a Republican, said after adjournment there had not been enough time to deal with the complicated bill, and funding was a sticking point.
Neither chamber was scheduled to return to Harrisburg before the Nov. 6 election, nor do lawmakers plan to vote on any bills in the postelection period that ends Nov. 30. A new Legislature will be sworn in in January.”