There are many misconceptions about cyber charter schools.  These myths and truths aim to provide insight on what these misconceptions are and to educate parents, students, teachers, legislators and other stakeholders about cyber charter education and the importance of school choice.

MYTH:

A special education program within a school district costs about $7,000 per pupil for the school district to provide. Compared to $24,192 per pupil the district pays to a charter school.

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MYTH:

Cyber-Charter Schools run large surpluses, demonstrating that they do not need the money allocated to them to run these “less expensive” schools.

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MYTH:

According to reformpacharterschools.wordpress.com:

“Cyber charter schools can educate students for far less than traditional ‘brick and mortar’ charter schools and school districts. Cyber charter schools do not maintain expensive buildings or sports fields and they do not provide students with transportation.”

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School do not need as much money to operate because they do not have buildings and they do not have transportation costs.

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MYTH:

Charter Schools need greater financial oversight, thus, Senate Bill 1085 requires:

“Any charter school entity that elects to issue debt shall hold in escrow an amount sufficient to pay the annual amount of the sum of the principle maturing or subject to mandatory redemption and interest owing by the charter school entity or sinking fund deposit due by the charter school entity.” (SB 1085, page 19, (d))

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MYTH: 

Pennsylvania Charter Schools receive their full allotment of PSERS money from the student’s home school district through the charter school funding formula (form 363).  In addition, they get to reimburse half of their PSERS costs from the state.  This is a “double dip” and unfair to allow charter schools to take tax dollars twice for the same cost(s).

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MYTH:

Tom Wolf on his website believes charter schools are a drain on tax resources and are unfairly over funded.

He states that, if elected, he will:

“Convene a commission to develop funding formulas that are fair to school districts, brick-and-mortar charter schools, cyber charter schools, and taxpayers. Currently, charter school funding is based on a school district’s per student costs, which includes funds associated with services not provided by charter schools. These all-in costs are starving our local districts of desperately needed resources and helping charter school fund balances grow. The Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office estimates that accurate brick-and-mortar and cyber charter funding formulas could save taxpayers and local districts as much as $365 million each year.”

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MYTH:

Tom Wolf believes that certain PA Cyber Charter Schools are “for-profit” schools and that some “charter school administrators are prioritizing profits over student learning.”

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Pennsylvania Cyber-Charter Schools are hard to regulate and thus may easily break or bend the law to benefit a few individuals who control the purses of the school.

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MYTH:

Tom Wolf states on his website:

“Pennsylvania cyber charter schools are doing a dismal job of educating students. Governor Corbett, who’s responsible for their performance, should be ashamed of himself.

In order to ensure that every student receives a quality education and taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately, Tom Wolf will set new cyber charter oversight requirements, including:

There are too many reports of cyber charter schools inflating enrollment numbers and failing to report students who drop out of school. Taxpayer dollars should follow our students and not help cyber charter operators expand their wallets. As a result, cyber charter schools will be required to regularly submit student attendance data and return funds to local school districts for students that leave during the course of the school year.”

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MYTH:

The Charter School Law does not go far enough to protect the taxpayer from dishonesty or misconduct.

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MYTH:

Strong and community-supporting Charter Schools should not have to spend time and effort getting their charters reauthorized every five years. SB 1085 allows them a way to get 10 year charters through a performance standard.

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MYTH:

On Tom Wolf’s website, he states:

“Reforming Pennsylvania’s Charter School Sector: The state’s charter school sector is one piece of our public education system. It can play an important role in introducing new and innovative teaching practices that can be expanded to local school districts. Unfortunately, Governor Corbett and others in Harrisburg have prioritized mass expansion and deregulation.”

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MYTH:  Tom Wolf accuses Governor Corbett of prioritized mass expansion and deregulation of Pennsylvania’s Charter Schools over accountability and student outcomes.

On Tom Wolf’s website, he states in reference to “Reforming Pennsylvania’s Charter School Sector:”

“The state’s charter school sector is one piece of our public education system. It can play an important role in introducing new and innovative teaching practices that can be expanded to local school districts. Unfortunately, Governor Corbett and others in Harrisburg have prioritized mass expansion and deregulation of this sector over accountability and student outcomes.”

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MYTH:

The Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) report of 2019 measured “Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania.”  It has been widely reported that in that report, students who moved from a Traditional Public School (TPS) to a PA Charter School lost ground the first year as compared to their Virtual Control Record (VCR).

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MYTH:

Posted on the Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s website:

“The foremost national study of charters conducted by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in April 2011 showed 100% of cyber charters performing significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts in both reading and math.”

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MYTH:

Cyber-Charter-School students are isolated from the real world, have limited opportunities to socialize, and are deprived of an important part of their educational experience.

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MYTH:

Currently there is an ad that is airing on major channels in the Philadelphia area that states:

“We teach our kids to play fair with others.  But is it playing fair with our kids when public school budgets are slashed to pay for private charter schools and programs that help public school students make the most of their talents and abilities are eliminated?  Our kids deserve a fair chance to achieve their full potential.  That’s why public dollars should go to public schools.  It’s only fair – a message from the Council for the Advancement of Public Schools.”

This same ad can be viewed on U-Tube:

http://ytchannelembed.com/video.php?id=J-A3qgPHubw&t=#.U4EkCHb3FTt

and is linked there from the website of the Council for the Advancement of Public Schools that created and sponsored the ad.

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