Pa. Department of Education Ramping Up Charter School Oversight

It's a push to better regulate the state's charter schools, which have long been the subject of debate.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education will create a new branch specifically geared toward overseeing the state’s charter schools, Governor Tom Wolf announced yesterday.

The Division of Charter Schools will work with teachers and administration at charter schools in an effort to boost quality and accountability, with a specific focus on improving parent and community involvement and student success.

It’s a push to better regulate the state’s charter schools through fiscal and education program reviews.

“Charter schools play an important role in our education system, but that role must be accompanied by sufficient oversight,” Wolf said in a statement. “Establishing this new division within the Department of Education will allow us to maximize our resources to not only ensure charters are being properly supported, but that they are being held accountable to taxpayers.”

Funding for the four-employee Division of Charter Schools will be taken out of the current state budget, according to NewsWorks. A chief will oversee the office, which will also focus on the reauthorization process of cyber charter schools.

Charter schools, as well as the state’s charter school law, have long received flak for their lack of state regulation. John Oliver recently blasted the state’s charter school system on Last Week Tonight, when he said that at least 10 executives or top administrators at charter schools have pleaded guilty in the last decade to charges like fraud, obstruction of justice and misusing funds.

A reform bill for the state’s nearly 20-year-old charter school law, which the state auditor once called the worst in the country, is slated for the Fall legislative session.

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