HB97 aims to protect education

In a July 22 op-ed titled “Late-night charter vote suspect,” Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA, attempted to distort the work of the Senate and wrongly attacks me for my vote on legislation to improve the educational system.

The legislation Spicka referenced is House Bill 97.

Spicka tries to paint senators as protecting so-called “special-interests” and argued the bill does not address any of the concerns related to traditional government and charter schools.

She first criticized an amendment passed in the Senate Education Committee, which did three things: removed the arbitrary funding cut to cyber charters, balanced the membership of the proposed Charter School Funding Commission, and focused the purpose of the Commission to reflect its original intent of establishing a fair funding formula.

Her argument that a $27 million state-wide cut should be made to cyber charter schools before the Funding Commission issues its findings speaks to her motives.

She and her organization are committed to eliminating any opportunities parents have to find an alternative path for their children’s academic success.

She is entitled to her opinion, but not entitled to misrepresent the good work many people have put into this reform legislation.

She criticized me for voting against amendments that had no basis in the law, like requiring private companies to be subject to Right-to-Know requests and shutting down a charter school if it was convicted of fraud.

Of course, she didn’t ask for Right-to-Know access to private companies doing business with traditional government schools or seem to understand that “schools” cannot be convicted of fraud.

If an individual administrator is convicted of a crime, the justice system deals with them, just like it does with an administrator from a traditional government school.

She argues that the bill “does not address the continued abysmal academic performance of the state’s cyber charter schools.”

In addition to the substance of that point being inaccurate, the bill directs the State Board of Education to establish an academic performance matrix to be used in charter school applications, renewals and revocations.

And, the bill requires additional information from charters regarding governance structure and operations, contracts of any service, policies on student attendance and truancy, and plans to meet the academic matrix standards.

The language in this bill provides more accountability to everyone in the system.

Her distortion of this legislation that affects just 1.51 percent of Blair County schools’ expenditures brings into question the statements her organization makes on any education-related issue.

Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. R-Blair


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