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Host: Scott LaMar

RST: School Choice & Charter Funding

Written by Radio Smart Talk | Jul 23, 2013 12:21 PM

What to look for on Radio Smart Talk Wednesday, July 24, 2013:


Cyber schools are one of several options available to parents deciding where to send their children.

The number of charter schools in Pennsylvania is growing rapidly, with 173 brick-and-mortar schools and 16 cyber schools. Together they educate some 105,000 students. Parents have more choices than ever before about where to send their kids.  Public or private? Charter or cyber charter?

While funding for public schools continues to decline, the cost of sending students to independent, online charter schools continues to rise. The financial impact on public schools is big. Program cuts and layoffs loom large, while shrinking enrollment threatens to close some public schools. 

This year, the state's 16 cyber charters will receive at least $366 million in taxpayer funds. They’ll get the funding despite the fact that none met federally mandated academic performance targets last year.

But when it comes to education, one size doesn’t fit all. Cyber charters provide options for families seeking alternatives. They foster competition among educators and innovations in technology. These are just a few of the reasons why cyber charters aren’t just a passing fad, advocates say they’re here to stay. 

Is it time to rethink how charter schools are funded? How do we support innovation while balancing the need for accountability and quality?

To help us answer these questions and more we’ll speak with Jonathan Cetel, Executive Director of PennCAN, Stuart Knade Interim Executive Director  of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and Susan Spicka, a parent and grassroots public education advocate in Shippensburg. She's also the co-founder of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley.


RST 07-24-13 Three .jpg

Susan Spicka,Stuart Knade,and Jonathan Cetel

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-24 08:04

    Facebook Comment from Paula:
    The public education system has not been stellar; part of the problem with money and schools is the amount of it that is wasted collecting and reporting meaningless data.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-24 08:06

    Facebook Comment from Russell:
    Put simply (perhaps too simply but still, mostly accurately) most charter schools are failures. They don't deliver on their promises and have little or no accountability. It's another way to privatize a function and move more public money into the private sector. Look past the propaganda on charters and it's clear.

  • Lisa img 2013-07-24 08:34

    There have been several comments about charter schools failing. Is this a measure simply of results from PSSA testing? Is there a difference between the performance of cyber charter schools and brick and mortar cyber schools? How do cyber charter school results compare to home schooling results? And aren't you defining "failure" simply as measured by PSSA testing results? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to measure against several factors, such as, graduation rates, college entrance and graduation, post-school employment?

    • Susan Spicka img 2013-07-24 12:50

      Hi Lisa,
      Here is a link to an article about a study done by Stanford University that addresses charter school performance This is a list to the study itself:

      There is a big difference between the performance of cyber charter schools and brick and mortar charter schools. The same measures are used to evaluate traditional public schools and all charter schools. This is what the state of PA has decided to use to evaluate the quality of all of our schools. Thank you for being involved in this conversation!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-24 09:39

    Email from Blaine:
    eliminate ALL funding for charters that do not meet adequate yearly progress. MAYBE the legislature should encourage the state to combine school districts.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-24 09:42

    Email from Kim:
    Why aren't there independent teams observing teachers and evaluating them.

    Administrators can be biased.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-24 09:45

    Email from Kevin:
    One of the core functions is to educate it's citizens. Instead of trying to fix the schools, certain groups would rather destroy our public school system all in the name of reducing government. The public school system has worked in society for 100's of years. It would be better to fix the public school system then to waste money on private schools.

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