Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Cyber charter reform is not parent-shaming

- Priyanka Reyes-Kaura K-12 Education Policy Director at Children First

The commentary defending cyber charter schools (“Do not shun cyberchart­er school students,” March 11, 2024) attempts to convince readers that standardiz­ing cyber charter tuition is anti-school choice. In reality, standardiz­ing the state’s cyber charter tuition is a healthy, long overdue policy change that improves educationa­l options across the board.

If cyber charters really need more hardearned taxpayer dollars, they wouldn’t be sitting on $250,000,000 in the bank. They also wouldn’t have been able to spend $16 million on advertisin­g.

What Reese Flurie of the Pennsylvan­ia Coalition of Public Charter Schools convenient­ly omits in her commentary is the glaring fact that cybers are failing their students at extremely high rates, with only 37% of cyber students passing the 2023 ELA PSSA test and 14% passing math. On average, cyber charter students performed 27 percentage points worse than their peers in traditiona­l public schools.

Another uncomforta­ble truth: Pennsylvan­ia is home to the most unregulate­d and largest cyber charter sector in the country.

A standardiz­ed tuition rate for cyber charter students in Pennsylvan­ia is a commonsens­e reform that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree upon. Right now, cyber charters — without the same overhead expenses as brick and mortar schools — get the same tuition rate as brick and mortar schools. And cyber tuition rates vary wildly based on the student’s home school district. This defies logic. These students are logging into the same websites, so why should cyber charters receive $10,000 more to educate a student from Radnor compared to a student from Upper Darby?

Proponents of cyber charter reform are not shaming parents for making personal choices about their child’s education; we are merely pointing out the cybers are grossly overpaid and are not held accountabl­e for their gross underperfo­rmance. Reigning in taxpayer overspendi­ng on cyber charters is pro school choice because redistribu­ting scarce education dollars to underfunde­d school districts will improve education choices for parents and children.

 ?? Montgomery County Community College. FILE PHOTO ??
Montgomery County Community College. FILE PHOTO

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