Three years ago, the Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale declared that the state’s charter law was the worst in the nation. The scandals and frauds were frequent, and many public school districts teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. But Republican Governor Tom Corbett and the Republican Legislature had no interest in reforming the charter law. A major charter owner was the single biggest contributor to Corbett’s re-election campaign and leader of his education transition team.

Democrat Josh Shapiro is now the state’s Attorney General, and the current Democratic Governor Tom Wolf announced that he intends to issue executive orders and propose legislation to reform the charter law to require accountability and transparency.

Unfortunately, the Legislature is still controlled by charter-friendly Republicans, who betray the families who elected them, whose children go to public schools.

Gov. Wolf announced a plan on Tuesday to improve financial accountability and academics among Pennsylvania’s charter schools, focusing on cyber charters and charter management companies, through executive actions and new legislation.

“Charter schools, like traditional public schools, should be high quality and they should be held accountable,” Wolf said. “But the laws currently don’t allow us to hold charter schools and their operators to the same standards as traditional public schools.”

Wolf called the state’s charter law “irresponsible” and “flawed.” He described the original intent of the law as “creating new and innovative educational opportunities” and said that some charter schools are doing this and doing it well.

“Unfortunately, this is not the case for all charter schools, especially among cyber charter schools,” he said.

On average, Pennsylvania charter schools have not improved student test scores in reading compared to public schools and have done worse in math, according to a study from Stanford University cited by Wolf. It also found that the academic situation was worse among the state’s cyber charters, which dramatically underperform compared to public schools.

The charter lobby was outraged! How dare the governor demand accountability! They think they should be unregulated and unaccountable. Their spokesperson said the governor’s efforts were nothing less than a “ blatant attack” on the charter industry. Never mind that the founder of the state’s biggest cyber charter is serving jail time for tax evasion on $8 million that were spent on personal luxuries. Never mind that the state’s cyber charters have never met academic standards.

Why reform failure and fraud?