POTTSTOWN PA – An e-mail advocating charter school reform in Pennsylvania, which encouraged Pottsgrove School District parents to contact state legislators and urge them to reduce the charters’ costs to districts, was sent Monday (Oct. 1, 2012) by the Board of School Directors to its news subscribers.
The district’s e-mail system, called The Big List, normally reports to parents on upcoming events like back-to-school nights and Christmas concerts, or reminds them of school-related requirements. Its use by the district for political advocacy is not unprecedented, but messages like that delivered Monday are infrequent enough to attract notice.
The directors’ e-mail generally repeated a warning issued by the Pennsylvania Association of School Boards that “the short session of the General Assembly has begun with a renewed push to expand the state’s law governing charter schools.” The association wants reform laws to include “measures that will reduce tuition costs local school districts pay for children … to attend a charter school.”
“In the next few days,” the board e-mail said, “we ask that you email or call your state legislator and ask him or her to vote NO on any charter school bill that ignores real funding reform and only creates a statewide funding commission, restricts public access to the records of organizations and allows charter schools to receive a double dip on retirement payments.”
The association, the e-mail added, specifically opposes Senate Bill 1115, which it claims includes charter school expansion language to create a statewide authorizer for charter schools, allowing them to by-pass local school boards; and House Bill 1330, which does not include a statewide authorizer but allegedly allows school district subsidy dollars to be transferred directly to charter schools without local oversight.
Rather than provide a district e-mail address for local replies, the directors’ message instead refers those who want more information to Karen Devine of the association’s Parent Advocacy Network, at email@example.com .
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